July 16, 2024

Representative DeLauro Urges Obama Administration to Not Weaken Food Safety with Canada

Representative Rosa Delaura (D-CT) wrote a letter to the Obama administration today, asking them to not weaken food safety regulations in initiatives with Canada. The two countries are negotiating details in the Beyond the Border program and the Regulatory Cooperation Council agreement.

PathogenDeLauro wrote, “Just this past September, Canada initiated what would become the largest beef recall in its history. The recall involved more than 2,000 products from XL Foods in Alberta, including an estimated 2.5 million pounds of beef products that had been exported to the United States. Any attempt to achieve greater alignment with the regulatory approaches of the two systems would have the potential to weaken public health protections in the United States and impede USDA’s ability to prevent foodborne illness. Facilitating trade should not supersede public health protections as would be the case in this situation with trade taking priority over preventing domestic foodborne illness.”

The XL Foods recall was linked to 18 cases of E. coli 0157:H7 across Canada. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) alerted the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to at least three positive samples for the pathogenic bacteria in XL Foods products beteween September 4 and September 12, 2012.

DeLauro also states that the United States has “zero tolerance for Listeria monocytogenes in all ready-to-eat products and product contact surfaces, while the Canadian system allows for a tolerance level of less than 100 colony forming units.” In addition, in the U.S, a meat or poultry facility is required to review its hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) records before they can ship a product. Canada does not require this pre-shipment review. Finally, FSIS requires a “continuous inspection presence at meat and poultry slaughter and processing facilities. Canada does not require a daily or continuous inspection presence at its meat and poultry slaughter facilities.”

The letter also states that the Beyond the Border Action Plan establishes a pilot program that would let Canadian facilities ship fresh beef and pork products directly to an FSIS-inspected facility without passing through border inspection. DeLauro says, “I strongly urge you to prevent any food safety-related measures from being included in these initiatives.”

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