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Border pilot project raises food safety concerns

U.S. groups fear loss of traditional food inspection for pork, beef products


WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Canada/U.S. border pilot program launched this month is raising concerns among some American lobby groups.

According to a report on Meatingplace.com, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) received a letter from Food & Water Watch, the Consumer Federation of America and the National Consumers League expressing their fears about some aspects of a new pilot project under the Beyond the Border Action Plan.

The one-year pilot project changes the way some imported meat product inspections are handled by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), allowing some establishments to pre-clear border inspections, and use “alternative methods for reviewing import documents.”

The program affects only certain fresh beef and pork products exported from “a small number of CFIA-registered establishments…directly to FSIS-inspected establishments for further processing.”

The groups say there are still “too many unanswered questions” about how the program will work, as well as concerns about Canada’s ability to meet U.S. equivalency standards.

The Beyond the Border Action Plan was announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama in December 2011. Its intent is to enhance security between Canada and the U.S., while accelerating “the legitimate flow of people, goods and services” across the border.