Food Inspection Agency ready to deal with heightened border security

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OTTAWA, Ont. — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it is taking action in response to heightened security at border points of entry, to maintain both public security and the flow of export shipments.

The Agency says it’s working with its federal, provincial and United States partners to facilitate the flow of border traffic and coordinate emergency response procedures for any food security situations that arise.

One of the measures it is considering is the creation of outbound pre-staging areas for export shipments and expedited lanes for live animals and perishable commodities should these actions be required. The Agency also monitors food product imports into Canada and is prepared to implement import controls, tracebacks and recalls if a food security concern is identified.

Inspection staff can conduct border blitzes to target shipments of high risk commodities at points of entry.

The Agency, in a release, says it’s ready to activate national and regional emergency response teams in the event of a food security crisis, including increased security at its laboratories that handle agents which could be used as weapons of terrorism.

The Agency has assigned additional inspectors to airports, seaports and land borders and is using new and additional inspection tools – such as X-ray machines – at various border entry points, including postal, courier and cargo inspection sites. The number of detector dog and handler teams has been increased, which inspect for restricted and prohibited plant and animal products coming into the country. Increased food safety surveillance and detection activities include inspections at food processing plants, food hazard investigations and enforcement of the Canadian Cattle Identification Program. The Agency is also upgrading its laboratory infrastructure and its capacity for diagnostics.

The Agency is also developing cooperative initiatives with the U.S. on biosecurity, including an expanded Smart Border Plan, which is expected to be overseen by a Binational Committee on Biosecurity Cooperation.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also announced proposed regulations to implement two provisions of its Bioterrorism Act, which are now open to public comment. These provisions in the Act require prior notice of food shipments subject to the FDA’s jurisdiction and a one-time registration of companies for domestic and imported foods in the U.S. The Agency will be contributing to formal comments from the Government of Canada on these provisions.

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