Contributing Lawyers

Canada

Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross

Australia

Andrew Hudson



Canada to Focus on Food and Consumer Product Safety

In the November 19, 2008 Throne Speech, the Government of Canada signalled that it would revive legislation put forward in Parliament prior to the election relating to food safety and consumer product safety.  The Throne Speech stated:

"Safety and security also mean that Canadians must be assured that the food on their dinner table, the toys they buy their children, and the medicines on which they rely are safe. Our Government will follow through with legislation providing better oversight of food, drug and consumer products. It will strengthen the power to recall products and increase penalties for violators. It will also move quickly to launch an independent investigation of this summer’s listeria outbreak and act quickly upon its findings."

This means that the Government of Canada is going to require exporters of food to Canada and consumer products to focus carefully on the safety of the food and products.  The importers will face stiff penalties if care is not taken to ensure the food and products are safe for Canadian consumers.

Any trade lawyer will tell you that more is at stake now than ever before.  Canadian importers will need to have plans to conduct due diligence prior to importation and to report any problems that are discovered with respect to the food and products that are imported into Canada.  If the Canadian importers and the foreign exporters are not diligent, the technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures that will undoubtedly follow will be even more strict.

Some call this protectionism - but this is the good kind of protectionism.  The Canadian governmnet is protecting Canadians from harm.  The key is for the good protectionism not to become unnecessary barriers to trade or to create a wall around Canada.  This is an important development for exporters and importers to watch carefully.

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