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

Column: Grade school students don’t have a voice during COVID pandemic

As adults weigh pros and cons of returning kids to school, is anyone asking kids what they think?

SLIDESHOW: Chilliwack firefighters battle large blaze at Rosedale chicken barn Friday

Majority of birds saved but buildings on Castleman Road destroyed by fire

Chilliwack Fair kicks off tonight with local talent

Todd Richard and Appaloosa to hit the stage for drive-in concert at fairgrounds

VIDEO: Chilliwack chicken barn destroyed by fire

Chickens saved from blaze as firefighters work to control large fire

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

Fraser Valley Bandits fall to Edmonton in CEBL final

Bandits lose 90-73 to Stingers in Sunday’s Summer Series final

Simon Cowell breaks his back falling from electric bike

Incident happened at his home in California

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Fraser Valley Bandits advance to CEBL Championship Game

Bandits post comeback 76-75 win over Hamilton Honey Badgers in Saturday’s semifinal

IHIT on scene of suspicious early-morning fire on rural Mission property

Entrance to Gunn Avenue property cordoned off while investigation takes place, updates coming

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Most Read