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Canadian pack rule changes could lead to job losses, warns industry expert

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Canadian pack rule changes could lead to job losses, warns industry expert

January 27
12:14 2013

Thousands of jobs could be lost in the food processing industry in Canada if the Canadian government passes a law that would force changes to food packaging regulation, warned an industry expert

The Canadian federal government plans to repeal the law that regulates the sizes of packaged foods sold in Canada.

The United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Canada national president Wayne Hanley has written an open letter to Canadian Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz to state that food processors fear that these planned changes will cost the country jobs.

80 plant closures

Addressing the minister in his letter, Hanley wrote: “The Harper government’s proposed changes to weaken Canadian food packaging regulations is a recipe that could kill thousands of good food processing jobs in Canada, and add injury to a vital sector of the economy that has already suffered 80 plant closures and more than 13,000 lost jobs over the past five years.

“The proposal to drop the sensible requirement that certain processed foods marketed in Canada be sold in standard weights and volumes will do nothing to make Canadian food processors more productive. It will only make them more vulnerable to closure, as Canada’s market is flooded by foreign food processors who will not have to meet regulations that now allow consumers to easily compare prices on uniformly packaged products.

“The threat to the Canadian food processing industry is also a threat to the Canadian agriculture sector, which currently sells more than a third of its harvest to domestic processors. If Canadian plants are shut because of a flood of imports, it will be a devastating and permanent blow to farm communities across the country.”

Container sizes

In November last year, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, proposed its plans to eliminate current restrictions that limit the size of containers for certain foods.

The size of certain food items are still controlled by the Canadian government. Currently, Canadian sizes for maple syrup, wine, honey, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are different than those sizes in America.

The CFIA said that the proposed removal of these restrictions will give consumers greater selection and allow industry to take full advantage of new packaging innovation, formats and technologies. According to the CFIA, as they can do now, consumers will continue to be able to compare prices and the CFIA will continue to enforce specific Canadian labelling requirements, such as bilingualism and weight.

It plans to launch a formal consultation on the issue this year.

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