LGMA Hosts Canadian Authorities

Written by Scott Horsfall

From August 20th through 22nd, we had the pleasure of hosting, along with the Canadian Produce Marketing association (CPMA), a delegation of officials from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). The group visited farms and a processing facility in the Salinas area, and we also had plenty of time to talk about the leafy greens industry, the LGMA and Canada’s new food safety laws and the impact they can have on produce imports in the country.

Following the tours, the LGMA and CPMA also hosted a meeting the leafy greens industry in Salinas, where the visiting officials were able to talk to leafy greens growers and handlers about the new Canadian import rules that are coming into effect.

Here are some key takeaways from the Canadians’ visit:

  • When investigating foodborne illness outbreaks, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) operates much like the CDC does in the United States. Once they have enough information from epidemiology and direct testing to know that an outbreak is underway, they coordinate activities with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), reaching out to importers and shippers to track product. Both agencies work closely with CDC and FDA in their investigations.
  • The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations came into force on January 15, 2019, and require importers to have a license. For now, shipments of imported food without a valid license will be accepted at the border, as long as they are safe and otherwise compliant with Canadian requirements (such as sourcing leafy greens from handlers signed to the California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement). If you’re exporting to Canada, you’ll want to make sure that your customers are, in fact, licensed now (or very soon). If they are not, products could be held up at the border when enforcement measures come into effect on January 15, 2020.
  • As a requirement of the licensing program, importers will have to indicate their own food safety verification processes – as part of this, they will likely be looking to their suppliers for information about Product Certification Programs preventive controls (PCPs) that are in place. You are not required to provide documentation of your preventive control plans (PCP) to your customer, but the importer will need to know that you have them and that you can provide documentation if needed.
  • The policy requiring LGMA certification for California leafy green exports to Canada remains in place. In order to export leafy greens to Canada, those products must be marketed by a certified member of the LGMA. Importers licensed under the Safe Foods for Canadians Regulations will be inspected by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency – part of that inspection will verify that imported California leafy greens are only supplied by certified LGMA members.
  • The LGMA will proactively make sure that Canadian authorities are aware of the certified members list and will make sure any questions are answered.

The visit by the Canadian authorities was appreciated by all concerned. We thank them for coming, and we want to thank the Canadian Produce Marketing Association for helping to organize and sponsor the visit.

Group photo of tour participants outside
From left to right: David Sturrock, CFIA; Jonathan Field, LGMA; Natasha Richard, CFIA; Kevin Gerrity, FDA; Greg Komar, LGMA; Alison Orr, CFIA; Mark Samadhin, PHAC; Steve Patton, CDFA; Robin Atkinson, CFIA; Scott Horsfall, LGMA; Jeff Hall, CPMA
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