Canadian Food Inspection Agency – National Chemical Residue Monitoring Program disappoints

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for monitoring the Canadian food supply for chemical residues and contaminants, and determining compliance with maximum residue limits (MRLs) and maximum levels established by Health Canada. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) runs the National Chemical Residue Monitoring Program.

You can request the 2012-2013 and the 2013-2014 National Chemical Residue Monitoring Program report, which describes the monitoring activities undertaken by the CFIA  on their website here.  The CFIA anticipates having the next report completed by March 2017.

List of Disappointments

  1. Very disappointing that a PDF version of the report has to be “requested” and then a staff person will email it to you (next business day in my experience!).  Why isn’t the report available for taxpayers to download?
  2. The program does not test grain or grain products.  (The processed products tested are frozen, canned or jarred fruit- and vegetable-based products.)
  3. The program does not test for glyphosate.
  4. The reports do not contain the following terms:
  • Glyphosate
  • Glyphosate’s IUPAC name: N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine
  • Glyphosate’s other name: 2-[(phosphonomethyl)amino acetic acid

Grain Testing Summary

This leads to the conclusion that grain and grain products are not tested for glyphosate residue prior to Canadian human consumption.  The only Canadian exceptions to this are:

  • The large Canadian barley malters who are not accepting barley treated pre-harvest with glyphosate for beer production.  These malters are not necessarily worried about the human consumption of glyphosate, they just believe that the malting qualities are negatively affected by glyphosate.  Malting requires the seed to sprout, so this makes sense. This is not applicable to all small barley malters who do not appear to uniformly require glyphosate free barley.
  • Grain exported to foreign markets.  These other jurisdictions have determined that grain should be tested for glyphosate levels prior to human consumption and Canada accommodates this with testing.

This falls way behind US FDA food glyphosate testing which includes a variety of cereal grains, vegetables and non-flavored, whole milk and eggs.  Unfortunately, this testing stopped soon after starting in 2016 due to limitations identified with labs and testing methods.

The Western Producer does report that the CFIA initiated a targeted testing program for glyphosate residues in various food commodities in May 2015. The targeted survey was of approximately 2,500 samples, looking at levels of glyphosate in bean, pea, lentil, chickpea and soy products as well as less commonly consumed grains such as barley, buckwheat and quinoa. Commonly consumed grains like WHEAT and OATS are expected to be included in fiscal year 2016 testing.  Its first report will be released in April, 2017.

 

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