U.S. halts imports of Canadian cured meat products

In the midst of the ongoing mess from the E. coli O157-linked XL plant in Edmonton, American meat inspectors this week began turning away loads of Canadian dry cured meat products from the borders, Global News has learned.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it has been working with the U.S. for a number of months to resolve what is being called a “technical issue.”

“Their standards on those particular products and ours don’t fully align,” said CFIA spokesperson Dr. Richard Arsenault. “I can’t comment on as to why they took this specific decision, but we’re going to work through that.”

Jim Laws, ex-director of the Canadian Meat Council, told Global News that its members were aware of negotiations taking place but never received notice of an impending halt of exports.

“They want more proof that in fact the whole drying process, which is a pretty standard process does in fact, would kill off any harmful bacteria, if any were present,” said Laws. “These products like salami and prosciutto are traditionally very safe because they’re manufactured over 45 days, 90 days, prosciutto up to 6 months.”

Canada exports nearly $20 million worth of dry cured meat to the U.S. and producers say any delay in getting Canadian processors back on the market could be devastating.

Many dry meat producers fear this won’t help bolster the opinion of Canadian meat products, given the timing of the Alberta based XL Foods beef recall due to e-coli concerns.