In what should be a cautionary tale for food importers, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) earlier this week announced it has suspended Costco Canada’s license to import fish, claiming that the wholesaler is consistently in breach of food safety regulations. Effective as of February 26, 2015, Costco cannot import fish products into Canada until the license suspension is lifted.
According to CFIA officials, the suspension is due to Costco’s non-compliance over the past two years with administrative procedures required by the federal fish inspection regulations (i.e., contravention of sections 6(2.2) and 6(2)(e) of the Fish Inspection Regulations). Specifically, Costco failed properly notify the CFIA about a batch of canned tuna being imported. Goods which should have gone to a warehouse for CFIA inspection prior to distribution and sale were instead transported directly to Costco stores. The agency states it “determined that adequate controls for food safety were not being reliably implemented by the company on a consistent basis.”
No other products were affected by the CFIA decision and no recalls have been associated with Costco’s fish import license suspension. The retailer is still permitted to sell other fish products, as long as they are purchased from other federally regulated Canadian fish import companies.
Costco has told the press that is working to improve procedures in order to fully comply with CFIA regulations. “As part of its corrective action plan, Costco is currently updating and strengthening its standard operating procedures to ensure full compliance with CFIA’s fish inspection regulations and reinstatement of its fish import license,” the company told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.