Meat products may only enter the EU via border inspection posts where they are subject to veterinary checks, and we have been assured that ‘any detection of a forbidden substance would be notified through the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed, to enable corrective measures in order to safeguard consumers in the EU’.
On 18 September, Le Monde reported that although CETA entered into force in 2017, the first audit of producers of meat exported to the European market under this agreement was only conducted in 2019. The article noted ‘failures’ in the traceability of beef from Canada – which contains trace amounts of growth hormones – sold in the EU.
On 29 September 2020, Portuguese Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Sandra Pereira of the Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left, tabled a written parliamentary question to the European Commission. MEP Pereira asked the Commission “does it consider that the conditions for the entry of products from Canada into the EU are being met?” and “what tests for the presence of hormones in beef are carried out by the Member States and with what frequency?”
Given these failures of oversight, the Portuguese MEP asked the Commission “is it prepared to activate CETA’s safeguard clause and suspend meat imports from Canada?”
On 25 November, Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides responded on behalf of the European Commission. She stated that “the Canadian authorities took immediate corrective actions in respect of the audit that identified shortcomings related to the robustness of the traceability and eligibility systems”.
Commissioner Kyriakides reported that “the outcome of traceability exercises carried out by the audit team during the visits to farmers and feedlots did not detect critical losses of traceability or likely illegal treatment of animals” and “given also that Canada cooperates fully with the Commission to address the identified shortcomings, there is no reason to introduce trade-related safeguard measures to protect public and/or animal health”. She further said that “Member States are responsible for the testing of imported food subject to risk-based official controls at the EU border” and that “such controls include testing for residues of veterinary medicines and hormones”.
Commissioner Kyriakides clarified that “in the event that positive results are found, these are reported in the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed” and that “since 2013, no positive results for residues of hormonal growth promoters or beta-agonists in Canadian meat have been reported by the Member States”. She underlined that “the identified deficiencies have no impact on the compliance of beef with EU requirements” and that “Canada fully collaborates with the Commission to address the identified shortcomings”.
Finally, Commissioner Kyriakides highlighted that “the Commission, in the context of its follow-up of this audit, will ask for adequate evidence that any actions planned or undertaken by the Canadian authorities are indeed implemented as announced” and added that “it may carry out a follow-up audit if so warranted”.
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