Solution sought on blocked canola meal shipments

(Resource News International) — Canadian and U.S. government and technical industry representatives are working to resolve the issues which have blocked the movement of some Canadian canola meal shipments into the U.S., according to the head of Canada’s oilseed processors’ group.

“There have been some shipments of Canadian canola meal halted at the U.S. border by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and being tested for salmonella bacteria,” said Robert Broeska, president of the Canadian Oilseed Processors Association (COPA).

Broeska said the issue began roughly two weeks ago but he wouldn’t indicate how many or at which border crossings the shipments were being held.

Broeska speculated that the U.S. FDA has started cracking down to protect consumers after a deadly outbreak of the bacteria was found in peanuts in February.

Because the bacteria is extremely common and has many levels and forms of infection, he said, it’s hard to know what exactly the FDA is looking for.

The cause of the infection can also be tied to the type of containers used for transport, rail cars, storage for the canola meal and a whole host of other issues that will need to be examined, Broeska said. “We’re looking for answers from the FDA so that we can address this issues with haste.”

It appears the new FDA administrator is trying to shake things up, Broeska said.

“We’re a little concerned and we want to be as compliant as we can,” he said. “Nobody can be afford to be out of compliance, and the processors are doing everything they can to satisfy the requirements.”

Slowdown

Broeska also felt the stoppage of Canadian canola meal shipments into the U.S. by the FDA had little to do with a slowdown in the usage of capacity by Canadian oilseed crushers during the month of May.

“That slowdown had more to do with summer maintenance shutdowns by crushers in Western Canada rather than the meal being blocked by the FDA,” he said.

June, July and August are typically the time in which processors shut down operations for about a two-week period in order to carry out the cleaning of their facilities, he said.

The recent slowdown in the weekly crush pace of canola can be attributed to a few of the COPA members taking some early downtime to complete these operations, he said.

A statement from Bunge in St. Louis confirmed that the company in early May was notified by the U.S. FDA that a shipment of canola meal produced on its canola line at Hamilton, Ont. tested positive for salmonella.

In late May, the FDA also notified Bunge that a shipment of canola meal produced in its facility at Nipawin, Sask. tested positive for salmonella.

Canola meal is a protein source used in animal feed. It is not directly consumed by humans.

At the time of the notification, Bunge temporarily shut down the canola line at the Hamilton plant. The facility is now on its annual maintenance shut down. Nipawin was already scheduled to close for annual maintenance at the time of the notification but has resumed production.

The company statement said Bunge is communicating with the FDA and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regarding its plan to remedy this situation.

Bunge will resume shipments of canola meal to the U.S. once it has received approval from the FDA.

Bunge was also co-ordinating shipments of canola meal in Canada with the CFIA.

Bunge will also continue to serve its customers from its three other canola processing facilities in Canada, the statement said.

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