Streamlining the pre-clearance review of meat inspection certificates from the United States

Food safety is the top priority of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), and our Government is committed to continuously improving our food safety system.

As previously announced by the CFIA, the Agency is streamlining the current two-step process for importing U.S. meat and meat products into Canada. This initiative will provide consistency for import processes of meat and for most other food commodities.

The previous system for importing meat from the U.S. involved a pre-clearance check to support trade, before requiring a full review to protect food safety. Because of improved technology, the pre-clearance check for trade purposes is no longer needed, and the CFIA is focussing exclusively on food safety.

These changes will not affect food safety. All food sold in Canada, whether domestic or imported, must comply with federal legislation. For meat imported into Canada from the U.S., the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspects and certifies all meat shipments before the meat is exported to Canada. As an additional measure to verify the safety of U.S. meat, the CFIA continues to conduct a thorough food safety review of all imported meat products and maintain appropriate information to support inspections and recalls as needed.

As of February 17, 2014, U.S. exporters are no longer required to submit the Official Meat Inspection Certificate for pre-clearance review. The CFIA continues to require Canadian importers and brokers to submit import transaction information about their shipments into the Canada Border Services Agency's Electronic Data Interchange System.

The National Import Service Centre (NISC) will continue to be the single point of contact for meat imports and will complete the review of import documentation. Accountability for providing accurate and complete documentation to the NISC will remain the responsibility of U.S. exporters and Canadian importers. The NISC ensures that imports of plant, animal and food products meet Canadian requirements prior to making a decision on admissibility or the need for post-border inspection.

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