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Is your food safe? What you need to know

(NC) Many of us enjoy a variety of foods and have come to expect our go-to choices to be available in stores whenever we want. For grocers to keep shelves stocked with our favourite items, they source a variety of imported products, from fruits and vegetables to spices and cereals.

It’s thanks to food importers that Canadians enjoy such a wide variety of foods year-round. Every day, thousands of metric tonnes of food and beverage arrive in Canada by sea, land and air.

But how do we know these products are safe? What is the process for importing food into Canada? Here’s a quick look at the Canadian import process.

All food sold in Canada, whether it is domestic or imported, must meet Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulations and be safe to eat. The regulations cover everything from production and processing to labelling and packaging and they’re designed to ensure that imported foods meet Canada’s safety standards before they even hit the shelves.

At each step of the import process, food importers are required to have measures and procedures in place to minimize potential health risks. While it’s not possible to eliminate every possible risk, these measures help minimize food-related illness.

Importers require a food safety licence to import food into Canada. Without a valid licence, shipments will be denied entry. They are also required to have written preventive control plans and a recall and complaint process in place as well as maintain detailed records so that unsafe food can be traced through the supply chain and quickly removed from the market.

These rules keep our food supply safe. But what can you do as a savvy shopper to make sure the foods you’re buying are safe to eat? Look for a few key things:

  • Food labels: You can use labels to make more informed choices about the food you purchase. Don’t rely on general product and health claims. Learn how to understand and read food labels by looking for key elements such as the Nutrition Facts Table, list of ingredients and allergen statements.
  • Packaging: Just like with any food, ensure the packaging is in good condition and intact. If something looks off or seems tampered with, don’t hesitate to skip it and opt for another.
  • Proper storage and handling: Ensure the food you buy is stored and handled properly. For instance, perishable items should be refrigerated or stored at the recommended temperature.
  • Buy from reputable sources: Purchase food from reputable retailers or vendors. Stores and brands must adhere to strict safety standards.

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