Ken Falk of Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry in Yarrow shows one of his company’s ducks alongside an imported duck from Hungary. Falk and other duck processors say the Canada Food Inspection Agency is allowing inferior product with questionable origins into Canada. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Feds not enforcing standards on Hungarian duck imports, B.C. farmer says

‘You have no way of knowing what’s in the bag’

A Chilliwack poultry farmer is among producers across Canada upset about cheap Hungarian ducks they say are being dumped on the domestic market with inadequate oversight by the Canada Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Ken Falk of Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry in Yarrow says the CFIA is not addressing the problem, which is leaving consumers to unwittingly purchasing meat with unknown origins and processing, all while leaving Canadian producers to lose market share.

“We are just so frustrated,” Falk told The Progress.

• RELATED: Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry will be looking for leads at upcoming Career Fair

Packaging on a duck from Hungary (left) and from Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry in Yarrow. Feathers are visible in the Hungarian duck, and the label advises that the “product should be heated thoroughly before consumption.” (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Speaking with him at his Yarrow operation, Falk shows a frozen Hungarian duck purchased at a Lower Mainland store. There are feathers visible, something no Canadian producer would allow. When defrosted, Falk said the Hungarian ducks have lungs and glands intact, also not permitted in Canada.

And the labelling has an almost comical description of how to cook the bird: “Product should be heated thoroughly before consumption.”

“Hungary seems to be not too worried about quality,” Falk said. “You have no way of knowing what’s in the bag.”

Canadian duck producers are also raising the alarm about other issues: what veterinary medicines are used in Hungary; possible animal abuse; and labour standards where employees earn as little as $3 an hour.

“We are not worried about fair competition,” Falk insists. “But you are allowing this garbage product to come in to Canada.”

The “you” in that statement that is so frustrating Falk is the CFIA who he insists is not protecting consumers and not enforcing food safety laws.

Asked about the issue, a CFIA spokesperson said that since January 2019, importers must hold a “Safe Food for Canadians” licence and ensure imports meet Canadian requirements.

In response, Falk said that is a complaints based system so there is no real prevention, only reaction.

The problem for Canadian duck farmers is that this has been going on for several years, and Falk says only in 2016 when they “screamed” at the government did anything happen.

“In 2017, CFIA conducted an inspection of Hungarian duck meat establishments and found that the inspection system and veterinary drug residue verifications in Hungary were equivalent to the Canadian system,” the CFIA told The Progress.

“Interesting that they are using the word ‘inspection’ here,” Falk responded. “The word they used to us was ‘visit’, saying that they cannot inspect foreign facilities.”

On the quality of the imported ducks, the CFIA when problems are found, Hungarian authorities are notified.

“CFIA’s data and verifications shows that duck meat from Hungary has a high level of compliance, with a few deviations which CFIA has signalled to the Hungarian authorities and requested corrective actions.”

Again, Falk questions the choice of word such as “deviations” and “minor corrective actions” as being insufficient to deal with the potential problems.

When asked to comment, the CFIA said nothing about feathers, labelling, employment standards, or animal welfare.

For years the Quebec Association of Duck and Goose Breeders (AECOQ) has criticized the rules applied in Hungary and the difference for those breeding and processing in Canada.

“The number of products that do not meet Canadian standards can be found in alarming quantities in Canadian markets,” according to an AECOQ press release.

“No Canadian product with this amount of defect could have reached the grocery store shelves.”

As for Falk, he is frustrated as a business owner being undercut by mystery meat being allowed into Canada, and he implores Canadians to shop locally where standards are strict.

“Canada is just accepting the European Union’s word for it but if nobody is watching what is going on, what can we expect to find in Canada?”

Falk said that buying local food as much as possible is a good response to the Hungarian duck issue. The B.C. government declared Dec. 2 to 8 as BC Buy Local Week.

• RELATED: Good things cooking at Barn Burner BBQ event this Sunday in Yarrow

• RELATED: Buy BC: Eat Drink Local campaign returns in May


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Packaging on a duck from Hungary (left) and from Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry in Yarrow. Feathers are visible in the Hungarian duck, and the label advises that the “product should be heated thoroughly before consumption.” (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Just Posted

‘We need to do better:’ VicPD responds to more parties, gatherings

Chief pleads with public to ‘think of the greater good’

What Victoria residents are looking to buy while social distancing

New search terms pop up on the Used.ca the top 100 list

Flurries fall on Malahat Monday morning

Showers expected off and on for rest of the day

Stats Canada expects COVID-19 to impact inflation

Inflation trajectory already pointing downards because of COVID-19

Sooke businesses cope with closures in midst of COVID-19

Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce helping local business deal with pandemic

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

COVID-19: A message from the publisher

We will be making some changes to our print editions during these unprecedented times

LifeLabs reducing public hours as it assists with COVID-19 testing

Coronavirus tests not done at B.C. patient centres, referrals only

24,000 Canadian Forces members ready for COVID-19 response: Defence Minister

No direct requests made by premiers yet, national defence minister says

IN DEPTH: How B.C. emptied its hospitals to prepare for COVID-19

Thousands of beds have been freed up, but patients and seniors have had to sacrifice

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Crucial details of Ottawa’s proposed wage subsidy program expected today

The government has rolled out a bailout package totalling more than $200 billion

Most Read