FSIS audit asks Canada to strengthen its food safety procedures.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) regulates the quality, safety, and labeling of meat, poultry, and egg products marketed in the United States. In 2014, FSIS conducted an audit of Canada’s meat, poultry, and egg systems and found deficiencies that caused the Agency to question the adequacy of Canadian standards with respect to these product categories. Specifically, FSIS identified procedural “weaknesses related to government oversight, sanitation, and microbiological testing that raise significant questions about the Canadian system…and that will need to be addressed…in order to maintain on-going equivalence to the United States’ system.”
- According to a series of recent media reports, FSIS requested that Canada comply with the recommendations stemming from that audit, or else face the possibility that meat, poultry, and eggs exported to the U.S. will be blocked. These reports have emphasized the existence of a mid-March deadline for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to make the necessary improvements.
- CFIA has responded to the flurry of media criticism by stating that no outstanding issues need to be addressed in connection with the audit findings. Characterizing the FSIS audit as “routine,” CFIA indicates that the country’s food safety systems have undergone inspections by many other countries and insists that Canada’s meat, poultry, and egg inspection systems are equivalent to the American regime. CFIA also maintains that the audit has had no adverse impact on Canadian-U.S. trade.