meatFood & Water Watch, along with other members of the Safe Food Coalition, are urging U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to immediately stop a pilot program that eliminates border inspection of meat products from Canada. A letter from the groups was delivered during a stakeholder briefing on the program.

“Canada’s food safety track record is at an all-time low with more than a third of all Canadians getting sick from food-related causes every year,” said Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch’s executive director. “Yesterday, the Canadian government announced an expansion of a recall involving ground beef products sold across Canada at Loblaws, Costco, Walmart, Safeway and Calahoo Meats stores, produced by XL Foods, one of Canada’s biggest exporters. But USDA thinks less inspection is a good idea?”

The “Beyond the Border” initiative was devised by the Obama and Harper Administrations to fast track – and in some instances bypass – inspection of Canadian meat products.

According to a study by the Journal of Food Protection released at the beginning of the year, foodborne illnesses cost the U.S. $77.7 billion each year.

“The current border inspection system works,” said Hauter. “It’s unconscionable to consider removing the current level of protection for U.S. consumers from tainted imported Canadian meat at any time, but especially now.”

Click here to read the letter submitted to Vilsack, including photographs of damaged and contaminated shipments of Canadian meat received at U.S. border checkpoints.