Friday, November 02, 2007

Product of Canada not so Canadian

Harry Burton from Apple Luscious Organic Orchard on Saltspring Island sent me a link to this news story from CBC Marketplace about how goods labeled "Product of Canada" are often filled with ingredients from China, or New Zealand or Mexico.
This is upsetting for those wanting to buy Canadian in an effort to support the domestic economy, limit the carbon footprint of our consumer habits and/or because they are wary of the quality of goods from places like China. In case, you've been living under a rock, China has skyrocketed to the top of the recall heap for health hazards concerning food and toy products.
The "Product of Canada" label legally means that 51% of the production costs were spent in Canada. Production of what it doesn't specify. In fact, if the 51% of the production costs were spent on the packaging, running the factory, wages, transportation, 100% of the contents could still legally come from imported foods from who knows where and they can still label it as "Product of Canada".
BTW, what the heck is butteroil-sugar blend??? Whatever it is, it's probably in your 'Product of Canada' corporate ice cream. And yeah, it's not actually made in Canada. Neither is most of the rest of the ingredients of your 'Product of Canada' ice cream. Nor is that "Wild Pacific Salmon" in your frozen fish dinner. In fact, as long as the final step of processing is done on Canadian soil, fish products can be labeled as "Product of Canada". Which means they can simply throw on a sauce onto your frozen fish in a Canadian factory and call it a "Product of Canada"A scary situation considering that many fish in Asia (the main fish source) are on high alert for diseases, contamination and other health concerns.
Just another indication that Canadian Food Inspection Agency isn't making health, food security and the public good a priority. It is the CFIA who designates these labels and decides the regulations behind them. Maybe instead of bending over and taking it from corporations, they ought to actually try protecting the Canadian public, health and enviroment.

Check out the video of this episode of CBC Marketplace. Definite food for thought.
The article also provides some tips of what to look for in labels that will trigger red flags that the the actual food contents are from abroad.

Buy real food from local farmers. Chances are that's the only way nowadays you can actually get Canadian food.

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