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Import requirements for fresh Guatemalan raspberries and blackberries

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Introduction

In light of 2 outbreaks in 1998 and 1999 of Cyclosporiasis epidemiologically linked to Guatemalan fresh raspberries and blackberries respectively, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) developed import requirements for these berries from Guatemala.  Under recommendation and advice from Health Canada and based on the knowledge of the production, harvesting, packing and shipping practices, fresh cultivated blackberries and raspberries were restricted from entry into Canada from March 15 to August 14 of each year.  Both wild blackberries and wild raspberries are restricted from entering Canada at any time.

In November 2012, the CFIA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Program, in consultation with Health Canada, modified its import requirements to permit the entry into Canada of cultivated Guatemalan fresh blackberries on a year-round basis.  The import restriction from March 15 to August 14 of each year on Guatemalan cultivated fresh raspberries, and the year round import restrictions for wild raspberries and wild blackberries will remain unchanged.

Scope

The following import requirement is applicable to all fresh raspberries and blackberries imported from Guatemala.

Definitions

Contaminated
The Safe Food for Canadian Regulations define "contaminated", in respect of a food, as meaning "that the food contains any micro-organism, chemical substance, extraneous material or other substance or thing that may render the food injurious to human health or unsuitable for human consumption, including those that are not permitted under the Food and Drugs Act or those that do not comply with any limits or levels provided under that Act."
Cyclospora
is a water-borne microscopic parasite that causes acute gastrointestinal problems, but is not considered a serious risk to healthy people.
Cyclosporiasis
is the name for the infection caused by Cyclospora, causes diarrhea, fatigue, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite and can last from a few days to a month or more.

Legislative authority

Section 8.(a) of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations and Section 4 of the Food and Drugs Act.

Section 8(1)(a) of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations states:

Any food that is sent or conveyed from one province to another or that is imported or exported must not be contaminated.

Section 4.(1) of the Food and Drugs Act states:

No person shall sell an article of food that

  1. has in or on it any poisonous or harmful substance
  2. is unfit for human consumption
  3. consists in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, disgusting, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable substance
  4. is adulterated; or
  5. was manufactured, prepared, preserved, packaged or stored under unsanitary conditions

Import requirement

A. Wild fresh raspberries and blackberries

The harvesting and packing of wild fresh raspberries and wild fresh blackberries has not been evaluated by the Canadian Government, therefore, no fresh wild raspberries or blackberries can be allowed entry into Canada at any time.

B. Cultivated fresh blackberries

Based on information provided by the Guatemalan Food Safety Authority and in consultation with Health Canada, the CFIA is permitting the importation of cultivated Guatemalan fresh blackberries on a year round basis. There is no longer a restriction for entry from March to August of each year. This is an interim measure pending a complete risk assessment by Health Canada.

C. Cultivated fresh raspberries

The CFIA continues to permit the importation into Canada of cultivated Guatemalan fresh raspberries from August 15 - March 14 of each year. No cyclosporiasis outbreaks have been reported during that time period in Canada, United States or other countries.

The restriction for entry of imported fresh cultivated raspberries from Guatemala from March 15 to August 14 of each year remains in effect. This date range corresponds to a high risk period where Guatemalan fresh raspberries could potentially be contaminated by Cyclospora.