Canada’s new leafy green import restriction starts June 1

| 6/1/2007

Enforcement of a new requirement by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has started today for produce truckers who haul leafy green produce originating from California into Canada.

The CFIA told Land Line Friday they have had no problems “so far” with the new import restriction.

“It is still very early in the process – so far, so good – but we are crossing our fingers that there won’t be any problems,” said Isabelle Laberge, senior officer of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program at CFIA. “If there are problems, we expect them to happen next week.”

The CFIA is now requiring shippers to fill out Box 22 on a “Confirmation of Sale” form, which documents the origin of the goods. For example, if leafy green vegetables originate in California, shippers must declare in that box that the produce has been handled by a “signatory handler” of the California Leafy Greens Products Handler Marketing Agreement.

Truckers are encouraged to check their paperwork before leaving the shippers because if shippers don’t fill out the COS correctly, the loads will be rejected by the Canada Border Service Agency.

Signatory handlers of the leafy green marketing agreement in California must agree to only get their supply from growers that apply the Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Production and Harvest of Lettuce and Leafy Greens or Leafy Green GAPS.

Laberge told Land Line last week there will be no exceptions by border officials while shippers – and truckers – adjust to the new directive.

“We are going to have to be quite strict about enforcing this directive,” said Laberge.

The import requirements stem from the September 2006 E. coli outbreak linked to bagged spinach grown in California which sickened more than 200 people, including one confirmed case in Canada, and killed three people, according to Laberge.

To read the CFIA’s import requirements, click here, or call the CFIA at (613) 221-7153

For more information regarding the list of signatory handlers, click here.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer