United States-Canada Open Border Proposal for Meat and Poultry Inspection

T-RCED-90-96: Published: Jul 12, 1990. Publicly Released: Jul 12, 1990.

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GAO discussed the: (1) Food Safety and Inspection Service's (FSIS) streamlined inspection procedures for Canadian meat; and (2) proposed open border between the United States and Canada for meat and poultry products. GAO noted that: (1) FSIS did not adequately document its determination that Canada's meat inspection system was at least equivalent to the U.S. inspection system; (2) the streamlined procedures no longer provided for routine visual inspection of all Canadian shipments, although selected shipments were subject to comprehensive inspections; (3) FSIS lacked control over which shipments Canadian inspectors selected for random inspections; (4) it was not clear that the streamlined inspection procedures were responsible for the higher rejection rates of Canadian meat in 1989; (5) officials from 25 plants that exported a substantial amount of meat and poultry to Canada were generally satisfied with the treatment they received under the Canadian inspection system; (6) FSIS questioned its authority to permanently establish the proposed open border, which could conflict with federal meat inspection laws; and (7) FSIS did not have a plan to assess the effectiveness of the proposed open border in ensuring the safety and wholesomeness of imported meat and poultry.

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