Washington, D.C. — Food & Water Watch received photographs from an import house in Niagara Falls, New York, showing 22 drums of toxic chemicals in the same shipping container as meat products. The shipment was refused entry by USDA inspectors and sent back to Canada. However, the Obama administration is seeking to reduce this type of border inspection as indicated by a January meeting hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“These photographs offer irrefutable evidence that we absolutely need food safety inspection at our borders,” said Food & Water Watch’s Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Nearly half of our imported meat products come from Canada and the USDA Inspector General has been critical of the lax enforcement of U.S. meat and poultry regulations by Canadian food safety officials. Eliminating U.S. inspections of meat poultry and egg products from Canada is unacceptable and we urge the Obama Administration to drop this proposal that prioritizes trade relations above consumer protection.”
The photos were sent to Food & Water Watch by Walter Piatkowski who runs the import house along with the following message:
“Had this shipment been part of the USDA RCC/BTB proposed pilot plan, it would have had disastrous effects. Without stopping at the port of entry for meat inspection, this shipment would have traveled down the road into US commerce with meat products and toxic chemicals commingled on the same trailer. The chemicals would have been unloaded leaving the meat portion on the trailer. When the receiver of the meat products opened the trailer, they would have had no idea their meat products were commingled with toxic chemicals for many miles and many days.
“No amount of data sharing between the US and Canada would have stopped this potential disaster. There is NO substitute for port of entry meat inspections. The level of US consumer safety and confidence in imported meats would be severely eroded, among other things, had port of entry meat inspections not been performed on this shipment.
“This is the second time in four months that port of entry meat inspection has prevented imported meat from Canada and toxic chemicals/harmful material from being commingled and entering US commerce.
“Without USDA port of entry meat inspections, how does USDA FSIS plan to stop the commingling of toxic chemicals and other harmful materials with imported meats? Without USDA port of entry meat inspections, how does USDA FSIS plan to keep US consumers safe? Without USDA port of entry meat inspections, how does USDA FSIS plan to instill a high degree of confidence in US consumers regarding imported meats?”
Food & Water Watch shares Piatkowski’s concerns and questions. “The last thing we need right now is more dangerous, unhealthy meat in our grocery store meat cases,” said Hauter.