Food Safety and Quality:

Inspection of Canadian Meat Imports Under USDA's Streamlined Procedures

T-RCED-92-18: Published: Oct 31, 1991. Publicly Released: Oct 31, 1991.

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GAO discussed the Food and Safety Inspection Service's (FSIS) new procedures for inspecting Canadian meat and poultry imports, focusing on: (1) whether inspection procedures are adequate to protect consumers; (2) a Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspector's description of the new procedures; (3) whether the inspector's records corroborated his statements about tainted Canadian meat; and (4) USDA inspection and rejection data for Canadian meat. GAO noted that: (1) the assurance that Canadian meat is wholesome and consumers are protected rests primarily on an FSIS determination that Canada's inspection system is equivalent to the U.S. system; (2) although FSIS recently updated its outdated and poorly documented Canadian equivalency review, the results are not yet final; (3) under the new procedures, Canadian shipments do not automatically stop and unload at a border inspection facility for a routine visual inspection for general condition, but FSIS spot checks compliance by randomly selecting about one in eight or nine shipments and inspecting samples, pulled by Canadian inspectors, for wholesomeness; (4) USDA records substantiated the USDA inspector's statement that he rejected over 1 million pounds of Canadian meat in 1990; and (5) FSIS inspection data show that rejection rates for shipments of Canadian meat were lower in 1990 than in 1989 and appear to be decreasing in 1991.

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