Chapter 10 - Imports
10.2 Scope of the Import Control for Meat and Meat Products and their Legal Basis
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10.2.1 Public Health Aspects
Meat import is regulated by the Meat Inspection Act (MIA) and the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 (MIR). The legislation prescribes conditions for interprovincial and international trade in meat products. (MIA Sections 7 to 9)
The conditions apply to meat products derived from carcasses of mammals or birds and include any other animal that is prescribed for the purpose of the Act or that falls within a class of animals prescribed for those purposes (MIA, sub-section 2(1) "animal").
The species of animals are further specified in the MIR sub-section 2(1) "bird" and "food animal". As a consequence, MIA and MIR limit the allowed trade in meat products to those derived from a "bird" and "food animal". Species of mammals (except marine mammals) and birds not conforming to these definitions may not be traded inter-provincially or internationally.
Trade in meat products derived from classes of animals, other than birds or mammals, and the marine mammals are subject to other Canadian legislation and may be traded inter-provincially and internationally if they comply with that legislation.
A meat product is defined by the Meat Inspection Act as:
- a carcass;
- the blood of an animal or a product or by-product of a carcass; or
- a product containing anything described in paragraph (2).
10.2.2 Animal Health Aspects
The legal basis for animal health related restrictions on importation of meat and meat products can be found in the Health of Animals Act and Regulations (part IV).
Restrictions may be placed on the type of meat product which can be permitted entry into Canada from any given country, depending on the status of that country with regard to serious animal diseases. Refer to Annex A of this chapter for specific import conditions.
In the case of those countries which are not considered free from serious animal disease (except Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE), imports are generally limited to the following:
- commercially sterile, cooked, canned meat products that are shelf stable (canned includes all types of hermetically sealed containers, e.g. retortable pouches, glass jars, etc.);
- edible tallow and oleo stearine;
- pasteurized, canned, cured, boneless meat products;
- frozen boneless beef cooked in tubes from specified establishments in certain countries; and
- dried soup-mix products, bouillon cubes, meat extract.
Additional animal health attestations are required to be incorporated in the Official Meat Inspection Certificate (OMIC) from certain countries and for certain types of meat products.
Depending on the species of food animals from which the meat products are derived, the Terrestrial Animal Health Division (TAHD) considers the following animal diseases to be of concern when importing meat and meat products to Canada:
- Newcastle Disease (ND)
- Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)
- No diseases of concern
- Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)
- Swine Vesicular Disease
- African Swine Fever
- Classical Swine Fever (Hog Cholera)
- Rabbit haemorrhagic disease
Ruminant species (bovine, ovine, caprine, cervid):
- Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)
- Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)
10.2.3 Terrestrial Animal Health Division (TAHD) Import PermitsMeat or meat products from countries which are not free of animal diseases of concern to Canada may be imported under permit issued by the TAHD following an acceptable risk assessment. The import permit must be issued prior to the product arriving in Canada.
10.2.4 Exempted Meat Products
Certain categories of meat products are exempt from the requirements of section 9 of the Meat Inspection Act and do not have to be dealt with in the manner described in this manual. These are specified in sub-sections 3(1) and 3(4) of the MIR and Chapter 1 of the Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures (MOP). TAHD import requirements may still apply.
In the case of an importation of a meat product that is exempt from the importation requirements of the Meat Inspection Act, the requirements under the Food and Drugs Act will still apply if the meat product is intended for distribution or other sale for human consumption in Canada. If the meat product is going to be distributed or otherwise sold for human consumption in Canada, the meat product:
(a) must not have in or on it any poisonous or harmful substance;
(b) must not be unfit for human consumption;
(c) must not consist in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, disgusting, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable substance;
(d) must not be adulterated; and,
(e) must not have been manufactured, prepared, preserved, packaged or stored under unsanitary conditions.
Section (3) of the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990:
Meat products exempted from the application of the Act
3. (1) Sections 7 to 9 of the Act do not apply in respect of:
(a) a shipment of meat products weighing 20 kg or less that is intended to be used for non-commercial purposes;
(b) a shipment of meat products that is part of an immigrant's or emigrant's effects;
(c) a meat product derived from a marine mammal;
(d) a prepared pet food;
(d-1) feed, as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Feeds Regulations, 1983;
(e) a meat product carried on any vessel, train, motor vehicle, aircraft or other means of transportation for use as food for the crew or passengers thereof;
(f) a carcass of a game animal or a part of a carcass of a game animal, including the carcass or part of the carcass of the animal that is considered to be a game animal in another country, that is to be used for non-commercial purposes;
(g) gelatin, bone meal, collagen casing, hydrolyzed animal protein, monoglyceride, diglyceride, fatty acid and the products resulting from the rendering of inedible meat products;
(h) a meat product, the total amount of which does not weigh more than 100 kg, destined and used for analysis, evaluation, testing, research or an international food exhibition;
(i) a food in which the meat product is of insignificant quantity having regard to the nature of the food and the nature of the meat product therein;
(j) animal skins not intended for use as human or animal food, hooves, horns, feathers, hair, wool and pharmaceuticals containing products of animal origin;
(k) a meat product that is destined for inedible rendering; and
(l) a food that meets the following specifications, namely:
- the food is a mixture of a fish product and a meat product;
- the food is commonly recognized as a fish product, having regard to:
- the relative proportions and type of the fish and meat ingredients present in the food;
- the common name of the food;
- the type of processing applied to the fish and meat ingredients; and
- the historical recognition of the food as a fish product.
- the food is processed in an establishment registered in accordance with the Fish Inspection Regulations or has been imported into Canada in compliance with those Regulations; and
- the meat product used in the preparation of the food originates from an establishment registered in accordance with these Regulations or a foreign establishment authorized to export meat products to Canada in accordance with these Regulations.
3. (4) Subsection 9(1) of the Act does not apply in respect of a meat product that has been exported from Canada and is thereafter imported into Canada in the state in which it was exported.
MIR 3.(1)(a) is interpreted as allowing a shipment (non commercial purposes) up to 20 kg total weight of various meat products from abroad to Canada, without those products having to satisfy the provisions of the MIA and MIR. These meat products will be allowed to enter Canada only if they comply with the provisions of the Health of Animals Act and Regulations.
For more information on travellers programs, contact your local Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) office
MIR 3.(1)(c) exempts meat and meat products derived from marine mammals from application of the Section 9 of the MIA. Meat and meat products derived from marine mammals are regulated by the Fish Inspection Act and Regulations.
MIR 3.(1)(e) is interpreted to exempt meat and meat products for use as food for crew or passengers only when placed on board a mode of transport outside the Canadian territory, and kept on board. Storage, transportation and disposal of these meat products are subject to the Health of Animals Act and Regulations.
Meat and meat products placed on board of vessels, or other means of international transport, from anywhere on Canadian territory, are not exempt, regardless whether or not they are under Customs bond.
Meat products offered for sale in duty free stores located anywhere on Canadian territory and the deliveries of meat products, from foreign destinations, to vessels docked or anchored in Canadian ports are not exempt from Canadian import requirements.
MIR 3.(1)(h) is interpreted as allowing a person, or a company, to bring into Canada, from abroad, up to 100 kg total weight of a meat product for sample purpose, without that product having to satisfy the provisions of the MIA and MIR. These meat products will be allowed to enter Canada only if they comply with the provisions of the Health of Animals Act and Regulations.
MIR 3.(1)(i) is interpreted by the policy outlined in Chapter 1 of the MOP.
MIR 3.(1)(l) exempts meat products containing both meat and fish, when the product is classified as a fish product in accordance with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) policy. Refer to Chapter 2, section 8 of the Fish Products Inspection Manual.
MIR 3.(4) allows entry into Canada of meat products legally exported out of Canada and being returned, either for commercial reasons or due to being refused entry by the importing country's competent authority for having failed import inspection. These shipments may enter Canada providing they meet all provisions of the Meat Inspection Act and Regulations with the exception of section 9(1) of the MIA. Exported meat products returning to Canada must comply with the provisions of the Health of Animals Act and Regulations.
Detailed procedures for handling of returned exported meat products can be found in Annex V of this chapter.
10.2.5 In Transit Meat Products
In transit shipments of meat products are shipments originating in a foreign country and shipped through Canadian territory, under Canadian customs bond, to a foreign country.
There are no provisions under the Meat Inspection Act and Regulations, to exempt these foreign meat product shipments, when they enter Canadian territory. However, for practical reasons the CFIA is not controlling entry of these meat products to Canada, except as indicated below, as long as they remain under Canadian customs bond. All in transit meat product shipments must comply fully with all applicable provisions of the Health of Animals Act and Regulations.
There are three possible categories of in transit shipments:
1. Shipments originating in the United States and destined to another part of the United States
These shipments are considered to carry low risk with respect to public and animal health, and consequently are being controlled solely by CBSA officials. These are the most numerous among the in transit shipments of meat products.
2. Shipments originating in the United States, destined to a third country (offshore)
These shipments are considered to carry low risk with respect to public and animal health, and consequently are being controlled solely by the CBSA.
3. Shipments originating in a third country (offshore), destined to the United States
These shipments are considered to be potentially of high risk, mainly from the animal health point of view and consequently are referred by the CBSA for CFIA clearance, before they are allowed to enter Canadian territory. The National Import Service Centre (NISC) clear these shipments and maintain records for verification purposes.
10.2.6 Inedible Meat Products, Pharmaceuticals and Industrial Animal Products Derived from Animal Carcasses
Scope and legal basis for inedible meat products import control program
Inedible meat products are meat products as defined by the Meat Inspection Act and are animal products under the Health of Animals Act and Regulations. Consequently all public and animal health aspects of the import control program for meat and meat products defined above also apply to inedible meat products.
Inedible meat products controlled under the meat import program are raw single ingredient meat products for animal food and for pharmaceutical purposes. Requirements for import and certification of inedible meat products for import to Canada are detailed in Annex F of this chapter.
Some inedible meat products are exempted by subsection 3.(1) of the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 from application of sections 7, 8 and 9 (import, export and interprovincial movement) of the Meat Inspection Act. However, they must comply with provisions of the Health of Animals Act and Regulations.
MIR 3.(1)(d) exempts "prepared pet food". Prepared pet food is interpreted as food containing meat product, prepared specifically for feeding of pets and is packaged and labelled for retail trade as pet food. Prepared pet food includes shelf stable canned and frozen/refrigerated (raw or cooked) food, with or without ingredients other than meat products.
MIR 3.(1)(g) exempts, among other things, "products resulting from rendering of inedible meat products". This is interpreted to include all rendered meat products identified and destined for manufacture of animal feed and industrial uses. This paragraph also exempts: "gelatin, bone meal, collagen casings, hydrolysed animal protein, monoglyceride, diglyceride and fatty acid". These products, although derived from meat products, have been subjected to extensive processing and as a result lost their identity as meat products. They may be used for manufacture of industrial products not destined for human consumption as well as ingredients for manufacture of products for human consumption or pharmaceuticals.
MIR 3.(1)(j) exempts "animal skins not intended for human consumption or animal food, hooves, horns, feathers, hair, wool and pharmaceuticals containing products of animal origin".
Pharmaceuticals containing products of animal origin are defined as health food store products, food supplement preparations etc., packaged and labelled for that purpose, for the retail sale. In this form, these products are exempted under the Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990, paragraph 3.(1)(j), as indicated above. Meat products imported in bulk for manufacture of pharmaceuticals are considered meat products and may be imported only if in compliance with all of the provisions of the Meat Inspection Act and Regulations.
MIR 3.(1)(k) exempts "a meat product that is destined for inedible rendering".
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