Record of Decision - Fresh Fruit and Vegetable (FFV) Program - Fresh Herbs

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December 01, 2010

Product

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program: Fresh Herbs

Question or Description of Problem

Would fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, thyme, etc. fall under the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations (FFVR) for the purposes of food safety (e.g. sampling monitoring activities), labelling (e.g. country of origin declaration) and import requirements (e.g. Licensing and Confirmation of Sale)?

Decision

Fresh herbs are herbaceous plants and agricultural products commonly marketed in bulk (bunched) or pre-packed and displayed for sale among other leafy vegetables. Fresh herbs are no longer used only as flavouring and medicinal agents but are viewed and used by consumers as food items just like other fresh greens and leafy vegetables (e.g. dandelion greens, swiss chard, beet tops). Fresh herbs are used in salad mixes, and are often consumed as a main meal (e.g. tabouleh salad) or as part of the meal (e.g. basil pesto dish) either raw or cooked.

Similar to other fresh leafy vegetables and greens, fresh herbs are commercially grown in Canada and abroad to supply a year round consumer demand. Fresh herb production systems are similar to those used for fresh leafy vegetables: open field and/or protected systems (green or shade houses). They are also exposed to similar production conditions: agricultural inputs, manual handling, post-harvest treatments; transportation and distribution. Fresh herbs may be exposed to similar microbial and chemical hazards as other fresh fruit and vegetables and would require similar approach in implementing measures to reduce risk of these hazards and monitoring for safety.

Since both vegetables and herbs are defined by The Concise Oxford English Dictionary as herbaceous plants, the argument could be made that herbs can be described as vegetables. Thus, FFV Program is of the opinion that herbs could be considered as vegetables and therefore could fall into the definition of produce within the meaning of FFVR.

With this in mind, it is FFV Program policy decision that fresh herbs traded inter-provincially and/or internationally be subject to the FFV regulatory requirements and Program oversight, in the same manner as other fresh fruit and vegetables that are traded in import, export and inter-provincially.

For example:

According to paragraph 21(1)(b) of the Canadian Agricultural Product Act (CAPA), CFIA inspectors have authority to inspect and take samples of any agricultural product. Fresh herbs are agricultural products and therefore are subject to inspection and monitoring sampling as part of FFV compliance verification activities. As well, fresh herbs must comply with all requirements under the FFVR including Health and Safety requirements listed under section 3.1(1), as this legislation is applicable to all types of fresh produce.

Based on this policy decision and according to subsection 10.(11) of the FFVR, every container of imported fresh herb must be labelled to show on the principle display panel the words;

  • Product of,
  • Grown in,
  • Country of Origin or,
  • Produce of followed by the name of the country of origin.

Herbs must comply with the Licensing and Arbitration Regulations specifically 2.1(1) which states that no dealer shall market in import, export or inter-provincial trade any agricultural product prescribed by section 8 unless they obtain a federal produce licence. As well, every licensed dealer who negotiates sales or purchases of an agricultural product requires a Confirmation of Sale as indicated in subsections 16.(2) and 18.(2) of the Licensing and Arbitration Regulations.

Definitions

Produce
Is defined in Section 2 of FFVR as any fresh fruit, fresh vegetable, nuts or edible fungi.
Agricultural Product
Is defined in Definitions section of the CAPA as (a) an animal, a plant or an animal or plant product, (b) a product, including any food or drink, wholly or partly derived from an animal or a plant, or (c) a product prescribed for the purpose of this Act.
Vegetable
According to The Canadian Oxford Dictionary, Second Edition definition, it is any plant or edible fungus whose leaves, roots, tubers, fruits, seeds or flowers are used for food, e.g. lettuce, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and mushrooms. The word vegetable is defined by The Concise Oxford English Dictionary as, any of various plants, esp. a herbaceous plant used wholly or partly for food, and herb, is any non-woody seed-bearing plant which dies down to the ground after flowering; a herbaceous plant.
Herb
According to the on-line dictionaries: The Free Dictionary and the Oxford Dictionary A herb is defined as a plant whose stem does not become woody and permanent, but dies down to the ground, after flowering.
The Gage Canadian Dictionary defines herb as any flowering plants whose stalk or stem lives only one season; corn, cabbage, lettuce are herbs or, any of herbaceous plants having aromatic leaves, roots, etc.

Additional Resources

Fresh Herbs: UC Davis's Recommendations for Maintaining Post Harvest Quality.

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