andrew schneider investigates

March 23, 2008

How do you know where food comes from?

Filed under: FDA,Food labeling,Government & corporate wrong-doing — Andrew Schneider @ 13:24

FDA has warned consumers to watch out for salmonella in Honduran cantaloupe, but how can shoppers know where their lope came from if there is no label on it?

American shoppers are increasingly demanding to know the origin of their food. But some growers, importers and lobbyists continue to fight it. Now, the premier of Alberta says demands to label meat as coming from Canada is protectionism and a ploy by U.S. beef and pork producers to protect their market share and has nothing to do with “Mad Cow” disease.

Getting back to the tainted fruit for a moment, the FDA issued a recall Saturday for cantaloupe from Agropecuaria Montelibano, a Honduran grower and packer, believed responsible for an outbreak of 59 cases of salmonella in Washington, Oregon, 14 other states and Canada. No deaths have been reported; however, 14 people have been hospitalized.

Last year I reported on bananas and mango coming from Washington State and coffee beans from Canada and showed that many food items listing various U.S. and Canadian communities as their point of origin actually were grown in China, Thailand, Central and South America and other countries. And yes, there was an error in the story, which wrongly reported that peanuts don’t grow in Canada, but this gross oversight aside, labeling is an important issue.

Graham Thomson writes in The Edmonton Journal that Premier Ed Stelmach is growing increasingly irritated with a protectionist movement in the U.S. that is demanding a “country of origin” label on all foods sold in U.S. grocery stores.

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach

Those behind the push, according to the newspaper, include the U.S. beef producers group called R-CALF, (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) which the Journal says, “has proved itself no friend of Canada’s by prolonging the mad cow crisis by fighting hoof and nail to keep Canadian beef out of the U.S. under the guise of food safety.”

“Under the veil of food safety, country of origin labeling came forward,” said Stelmach.

“It would appear they want a larger piece of the American market for themselves. They know that some Americans will buy products with “made in the USA” labels over something labeled foreign,” the paper reported.


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