Unwanted Luggage: CIFA Warn of Outbreak Risk

CANADA - CFIA warns of potentially 'devastating' economic effects if dangerous goods allowed to enter Canada in travellers' luggage.
calendar icon 4 September 2008
clock icon 1 minute read

According to Globe and Mail, Canadian border guards may lack the necessary training to keep dangerous goods out of Canada that may be carrying mad cow, foot-and-mouth disease, and even avian flu, leading to potential outbreaks that could damage the country's tourism and agricultural industries.

The news agency reveals that an internal risk assessment conducted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency also warns that border officials are too busy to properly screen international travellers entering the country for food, animal and plant materials that could contain pathogens that may infect Canada's animal population.

It's a significant issue that could have serious consequences for the agriculture industry and lead to problems that would have a ripple effect, as was demonstrated in the mad-cow crisis of 2003 or the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Britain in 2001.

"Economically, the impact of a disease outbreak can be huge," said Ann Allain, senior staff veterinarian in the animal health and production division of the CFIA's imports department. "It can be devastating."

The CFIA used to be responsible for screening international travellers entering Canada who may be carrying risky material, but that authority was transferred to Canada Border Services Agency several years ago. Border guards are supposed to be on the lookout for any foreign food, plants, animals or related products that international travellers may bring into the country.

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