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Producers Call for Equivalent Food Labelling Rules

by 5m Editor
26 January 2010, at 12:19pm

CANADA - The chair of Manitoba Pork Council reports a growing number of Canadian pork producers believe Ottawa needs to impose the same labelling rules on US pork entering Canada as is required for Canadian product entering the US, according to Bruce Cochrane.

A delegation representing Manitoba Pork Council visited Minneapolis last week and is in Des Moines, Iowa, this week for a series of trade advocacy meetings and to discuss issues of common concern with their US counterparts.

Pork Council chair Karl Kynoch says Canadian pork producers are increasingly concerned with the fact that, while US Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling has made it more difficult to move Canadian product into the US, American product continues to flow freely into Canada.

"Right now we're going through the World Trade Organization to try to resolve the dispute of COOL and the impact that it's had," said Mr Kynoch, "If we were to lose this case and those labelling restrictions stay in place some of our producers are starting to push for equivalency in labelling laws coming into Canada."

Mr Kynoch says that 25 per cent of the product that goes across the shelves in Canada comes out of the US. According to him, the US has managed to continually increase the imports of product into Canada.

"Our producers are probably getting fairly concerned with that for when you spend a lot of money trying to promote your product you sometimes feel you're just promoting it for the other guy. But, if we ship product into the US it's got to meet all these Country of Origin Labelling laws yet product can come into Canada here with very little restrictions," Mr Kynoch said.

"In fact it doesn't even have to have the label on saying what country it came from when stores re-label it," he continued.

Mr Kynoch says this is again a concern as the playing field gets a lot tougher for the Canadians shipping out than it does for product entering into the country.

Mr Kynoch notes Canadian and US producers have worked together to achieve equivalency on food safety and animal welfare laws but when stricter labeling laws are seen on one side of the border, it disrupts that equivalency.

He suggests the two industries need to be working together to compete on a world market.