Import requirements for Fresh Guatemalan Raspberries and Blackberries

Table Of Contents

(December 2012)

Amendment Record

This document replaces the Import Policy for Fresh Guatemalan Raspberries and Blackberries issued in 2009.

Introduction

In light of two (2) outbreaks in 1998 and 1999 of Cyclosporiasis epidemiologically linked to Guatemalan fresh raspberries and blackberries respectively, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) developed import requirements for these berries from Guatemala.  Under recommendation and advice from Health Canada and based on the knowledge of the production, harvesting, packing and shipping practices, fresh cultivated blackberries and raspberries were restricted from entry into Canada from March 15 to August 14 of each year.  Both wild blackberries and wild raspberries are restricted from entering Canada at any time.

In November 2012, the CFIA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Program, in consultation with Health Canada, modified its import requirements to permit the entry into Canada of cultivated Guatemalan fresh blackberries on a year-round basis.  The import restriction from March 15 to August 14 of each year on Guatemalan cultivated fresh raspberries, and the year round import restrictions for wild raspberries and wild blackberries will remain unchanged.

Scope

The following import requirement is applicable to all fresh raspberries and blackberries imported from Guatemala.

Definitions

Contaminated
in respect of produce, means containing a chemical, drug, food additive, heavy metal, industrial pollutant, ingredient, medicine, microbe, pesticide, poison, toxin, or any other substance not permitted by, or in an amount in excess of limits prescribed under, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Food and Drugs Act or the Pest Control Products Act.
Cyclospora
is a water-borne microscopic parasite that causes acute gastrointestinal problems, but is not considered a serious risk to healthy people.
Cyclosporiasis
is the name for the infection caused by Cyclospora, causes diarrhea, fatigue, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite and can last from a few days to a month or more.

Legislative Authority

Section 3.1 (1) (b) of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations and Section 4 of the Food and Drugs Act.

Section 3.1 (1) (b) of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations states:

"Subject to subsection (2), no person shall market in import, export or interprovincial trade as food unless it is not contaminated."

Section 4.(1) of the Food and Drugs Act states:

" No person shall sell an article of food that

  1. has in or on it any poisonous or harmful substance;
  2. is unfit for human consumption;
  3. consists in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, disgusting, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable substance;
  4. is adulterated; or
  5. was manufactured, prepared, preserved, packaged or stored under unsanitary conditions."

Import Requirement

A. Wild fresh raspberries and blackberries

The harvesting and packing of wild fresh raspberries and wild fresh blackberries has not been evaluated by the Canadian Government, therefore, no fresh wild raspberries or blackberries can be allowed entry into Canada at any time.

B. Cultivated fresh blackberries

Based on information provided by the Guatemalan Food Safety Authority and in consultation with Health Canada, the CFIA is permitting the importation of cultivated Guatemalan fresh blackberries on a year round basis. There is no longer a restriction for entry from March to August of each year. This is an interim measure pending a complete risk assessment by Health Canada.

C. Cultivated fresh raspberries

The CFIA continues to permit the importation into Canada of cultivated Guatemalan fresh raspberries from August 15 - March 14 of each year. No cyclosporiasis outbreaks have been reported during that time period in Canada, United States or other countries.

The restriction for entry of imported fresh cultivated raspberries from Guatemala from March 15 to August 14 of each year remains in effect. This date range corresponds to a high risk period where Guatemalan fresh raspberries could potentially be contaminated by Cyclospora.

Enforcement of the Import Requirement

The Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) will be updated every year to reflect the March 15 to August 14 import restriction for fresh raspberries only, whereby shipments of Guatemalan cultivated fresh raspberries will be refused entry. Fresh cultivated Guatemalan blackberries will now be permitted entry year-round.

Wild blackberries and wild raspberries

Inspection staff should verify shipments of blackberries from Guatemala on a routine basis to ensure that they are not wild. The Blackberries Varieties Comparision chart found below may be used to assist in distinguishing between wild and cultivated fresh blackberries. Inspection staff should also review the shipping documents; confirmation of sale (COS), invoices etc., to ensure the shipment does not contain wild blackberries or wild raspberries.

If Guatemalan wild blackberries or wild raspberries are found on the Canadian marketplace, CFIA inspectors must place them under detention and have them removed from Canada or destroyed. If either Guatemalan wild blackberries or wild raspberries have already been distributed, immediately contact the Area Recall Coordinator.

Cultivated Raspberries

From March 15 to August 14, inspection staff should verify on a routine basis that cultivated fresh raspberries from Guatemala are not found in the Canadian marketplace. If Guatemalan fresh raspberries are imported from March 15 - August 14, CFIA inspectors must place them under detention and have them removed from Canada or destroyed. If Guatemalan fresh cultivated raspberries have already been distributed, immediately contact the Area Recall Coordinator.

Physical characteristics of fresh cultivated and wild blackberries

Cultivated blackberries are normally more than 3 cm long and around 2.5 cm or more in diameter.

Wild blackberries are characterized by their smaller size. Wild blackberries are less than 3 cm long and less than 2 cm in diameter.

Pictures showing the differences between wild and cultivated blackberries are included below.

Blackberries Varieties Comparison

Click on Image for Larger View

Blackberries Varieties Comparison
Blackberries Varieties Comparison
Blackberries Varieties Comparison
Blackberries Varieties Comparison
Date modified: