CFIA widens restrictions on Japanese food, feed products

Canada’s restrictions on imports of food from Japan have been widened to include all food and feed products from more areas of the country.

Effective Friday (April 1), the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will block entry of any food or animal feed without acceptable documentation or test results verifying its safety, if the food or feed comes from areas of Japan affected by that country’s ongoing nuclear crisis.

CFIA on Thursday also launched a sampling and testing strategy to monitor radiation levels of products being imported from Japan.

The agency on March 23 had announced “enhanced import controls” on milk products, fruits and vegetables from the northeastern Japanese prefectures of Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki and Tochigi. But Thursday’s announcement expands the product list to all food and feed from areas including those four prefectures as well as Miyagi, Yamagata, Niigata, Nagano, Yamanashi, Saitama, Tokyo and Chiba.

“This list will be adjusted as required to ensure that border controls continue to maintain the safety of Canada’s food supply,” CFIA said Thursday.

The agency said it has told the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to refer all shipments of food and feed from Japan to CFIA’s National Import Service Centre. CFIA officials will then “assess the shipments to determine if they can enter the Canadian marketplace.”

Attestation

Specifically, shipments of food and animal feed from Japan must be accompanied by a signed attestation from the importer that the products did not come from the 12 affected areas in Japan. The attestation will need to be verifiable through “acceptable documentation.”

Otherwise, the products must come with attestation that they were produced, grown, processed, packaged or stored in one or more of the affected areas before March 11 and were transported and stored outside of those areas until they arrived in Canada. Again, the claim will need to be verifiable with documentation such as production, transport and warehousing records.

Japanese products in question, if produced, grown, processed, packaged or stored in any of the affected areas after March 11, will have to come with attestation and certification that they’ve been tested for “residual activity” by a lab acceptable to the Canadian government and found to have residual levels of background radioactivity below Canadian action levels.

Any “potentially contaminated” products will be disposed of following Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission protocols, CFIA said.

Japanese produce and food products make up less than 0.3 per cent of Canada’s imported food. Agrifood imports from Japan to Canada were valued at about $42.6 million in 2010.

Workers have been battling to control nuclear reactors damaged by the earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan on March 11. Evidence of leaking radiation in the area has since been mounting and people living within 20 km of the affected Fukushima Daiichi complex have been evacuated.

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