Don’t buy your turkey in the US, urges Food Inspection Agency

Inflation that continues to impact our grocery bills may have Canadians living along the U.S. border seeking a bargain on their Thanksgiving turkeyexplains Dr. Boubacar Sidibe, National Manager of the Avian Health Programs Section for Aquatic Animals and Non-Traditional Species at the Agency.

However, outbreaks of avian flu in several bordering states force the Agency to ban the importation of raw poultry and poultry products from Maine, New York, Washington, Michigan , Minnesota, Idaho and North Dakota, among others.

Danger

The Agency’s objective is to avoid any form of cross-contamination due to an imported product.

The risk does not concern human consumption. There is currently no evidence that poultry meat or eggs could transmit the virus. The problem is when infected poultry meat enters the food chain of susceptible species. Sensitive species, there are so many: pets, aquatic animals… »

A quote from Dr. Boubacar Sidibe, National Manager of the Aquatic Animals and Non-Traditional Species Avian Health Programs Section at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Transmission between several species could ultimately lead to contamination of humans. A cooked turkey thrown in the trash and eaten by a sensitive animal species could thus create significant problems, warns Dr Sidibe. We don’t want that.

The presence of turkeys from certain states could also lead to outbreaks among Canadian turkey producers.

A section of fruits and vegetables in a grocery store.

The Agency fears that Canadians are turning to the United States, as prices for food purchased in stores in August posted the largest increase since August 1981, at 10.8%, according to Statistics Canada.

Photo: The Canadian Press/Frank Gunn

Label

Thus, since September, only products bearing the label ready for consumption, cooked, fully cooked or any other such expression from the United States are permitted entry into Canada.

Raw and frozen turkey is therefore not permitted.

Canadians who attempt to smuggle in prohibited products will have their property confiscated at the border and could face fines.

Products prohibited from entry

  • Raw poultry meat (including frozen turkeys and chickens)
  • Raw table eggs
  • Egg yolks and egg white (albumen)
  • Leftover meals cooked in a restaurant
  • Raw pet food and raw poultry products
  • Feathers

Products permitted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

  • Roasted, grilled or spit-roasted chicken, intended for retail sale
  • Chicken soup or soup mixes
  • Boiled hard-boiled eggs
  • Chicken or turkey sausages
  • Chicken or turkey deli meat
  • Fully cooked chicken or turkey sandwiches, wraps or kebabs

Safe

Despite the presence of several avian flu outbreaks in Canada, including in Quebec, Alberta and New Brunswick, the Agency asks Canadians to look to the domestic market to avoid any loss of control.

Canadian industries are very efficient and Canadian turkey farmers continue to meet biosecurity standards. They put in place increased precautions to avoid avian flu in their breeding. We do not foresee any impact on the supply of turkeys for Thanksgiving, believes Dr. Sidibe.

Some provinces may be more affected by the lack of turkeys. Gold, frozen stocks are available and make it possible to meet demand, according to the Agency.

Les Éleveurs de dindons du Québec was unable to respond to our interview requests.

Quebec has nearly 250 turkey producers. In 2019, the industry made $79.9 million in revenue. About 16% of producers are located in Chaudière-Appalaches.

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