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Chinese food safety delegation visits Mapleton facilities

Food safety - Mapleton Mayor Neil Driscoll speak through an interpreter with Yujia Li, right, inspector general of the China Food and Drug Administration’s Department of Food Safety Supervision. About 24 Chinese food safety officials attended a “farmers supper” held at local poultry producer Buck Ross’ Mapleton facility on Oct. 28.  photo by Patrick Raftis

 

Chinese food safety delegation visits Mapleton facilities

by Patrick Raftis

MAPLETON - A delegation of top Chinese food safety officials visited the area last week as part of a fact-finding mission.

The delegation included about two dozen senior representatives from major food safety organizations in China, including Yujia Li, inspector general of the China Food and Drug Administration’s Department of Food Safety Supervision.

The group has been in Canada since Oct. 25 and has spent time learning about food sciences technology at the University of Guelph.

On Oct. 28, the delegates enjoyed lunch at Mapleton’s Organic Dairy, before touring Bionpower, an Elmira biogas facility owned by a group of shareholders including Mapleton poultry producer Buck Ross. The day, which also included a tour of Drayton Food Market, concluded with a “farmer’s supper” at Ross Enterprises’ facility in Mapleton Township.

The event was hosted by Ross Enterprises Ltd., along with Wellington-Waterloo Community Futures and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in conjunction with the County of Wellington Economic Development Department, Mapleton Township and TasteReal Guelph-Wellington.

The Canadian trip was arranged through the Bond Education Group, which is certified by the Chinese government to bring over delegates and connect them with other organizations in Canada in order to share best practices in various fields.

Paul Preikschas, a project coordinator with the company, said the delegates were all senior officials with the China Food and Drug Administration, mostly from Beijing but some from the outer provinces as well. Preikschas said the group’s focus was learning about Canadian food safety best practices and they came to this area for a number of reasons.

“One of our partners within the food safety area of course is the University of Guelph, a Canadian research institution in food safety,” said Preikschas. “Keeping it within the area,  we wanted to expand out and get to some of the small providers of food services so they can actually see, at a local level, how food safety is initiated.”

Ross pointed out the trip was initiated by the Chinese government.

“This delegation’s here on their own initiative. They wanted to come to Canada. They are paying their own way to come and learn about the products that we have,” said Ross.

Preikschas added members of the Chinese delegation “are very inquisitive, they are getting a lot of information and asking a lot of questions so they are definitely seeing things that they’re taking back with them.”

Through an interpreter, Li told the Wellington Advertiser the delegation “needs to learn a lot from here because we have a larger population in China and farmers already have very strict regulations but now we’re going to bring what we learn here and apply it in China.”

Li also said, “We’re pretty impressed with the size of the food market that we went to and we’re pretty impressed with the environment inside it as well. In China we also have grocery stores in rural areas, but compared to the size here the Chinese markets are much, much smaller; so we hope we can improve that way in the future as well.”

While the delegation was not on a trade mission per se, both Preikschas and Ross feel such exchanges are part of the process surrounding international trade.

“A lot of this isn’t necessarily going to have an immediate impact on anything to do with export and trade, but it builds confidence in the Canadian food system and how we’re looking at food safety,” said Preikschas.

Ross added, “The other thing we’d like to do is to establish the relationship so that China knows, understand and accepts Canadian products for what they’re worth.”

Ross told Li, “it’s good to have you understand how we do things so you know that you’re getting a steady flow of the best quality products.”

Ross believes international trade is among the keys to a bright future for Canadian agriculture.

“One of the things we have is a great opportunity to feed the world. We can grow much more food and grow it in a sustainable fashion than, I believe, any other country in the world … and do it continuously and do it at a profit.”

Ross also believes producers have an important part to play in the process.

“There’s very few people at the grass roots levels that get to dialogue with these policy makers …” he said.

“What I do know is there is huge market there we would like to fill. China does have money, China can import and pay for stuff and they just want a steady constant flow of good quality product at a fair price.”

The delegation was scheduled to be in Canada until Nov. 7, with stops planned in Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver.

November 6, 2015

 
 

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