Food Restrictions

Food Restrictions

“Think twice before travelling with food.”

 Product origin, destination, and end use:
Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is responsible for administering and enforcing the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) requirements found in the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS). This online database is routinely updated and free to the public. Take note products that may have been accepted on your last trip could now be refused.

Ignorance of the law is not a defence:
Upon arrival in Canada, travellers are required by law to declare all food (cooked or raw), plants, live animals and animal products. If you are uncertain about regulations, seek clarification before submitting your declaration. You are held responsible for the accuracy of your declaration and can be found liable for errors or omissions.

Prohibited items don’t belong in your bag:
The hazards associated with foodstuffs include invasive species or diseases that have the potential to affect Canada’s food supply and environment. If you obtain a permit or FoodSafety Certificate, it can be rejected by a BSO, and all foodstuffs will be seized and destroyed. Undeclared or prohibited items found in your bags can result in a penalty, seizure, and even imprisonment.

Officers, machines and dogs are watching:
These three factors work in tandem against your best efforts if you try to import food and evade detection. 1) In addition to verifying declaration cards, officers are knowledgeable in interpreting your body language. 2) Sophisticated screening devices can be used to detect “hidden” objects in your bags or on your person. 3) The canine unit has several categories that employ specific dogs who have a sense of smell far superior to humans. You are outnumbered and outsmarted. Even if you managed to avoid detection on one trip, you might not be so lucky the next time.

Things to Consider:
• Your travel history is shared by all border checkpoints.
• The severity of an infraction can impact your future travel.
Reminisce about the food and leave it behind!

Next up:

Immigration Referral

“Take a deep breath and don’t panic.”

Eleitha Haynes
Retired Federal Government employee with years of experience as a Border Services Officer.

“The author assumes no responsibility or liability for errors or omissions in the content of this column.”