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Made in Canada, eh?

lau-andree-52.jpg
by Andree Lau, CBCnews.ca

Last fall, I was flicking through TV channels when I saw Wendy Mesley pushing a shopping cart onto an dairy farm. "That certainly looks intriguing," I thought.

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Standing beside her grocery cart, Wendy Mesley asks about the ingredients in ice cream. (Marketplace/CBC)

As she pushed the grocery cart from the farm to a grocery chain's corporate office and from Parliament Hill to Lunenburg, N.S., Mesley, in her inimitable way, uncovered that the ingredients in items boasting "Product of Canada" stickers aren't really from Canada at all.

The Marketplace investigation found that the milk in ice cream, the garlic in jars and the frozen fish in boxes are all imported. But Canada's food labelling laws allowed companies to use "Product of Canada" labels if 51 per cent of the production costs, or the "last substantial transformation" of the product, happen in Canada. Nice loophole, eh?

With more and more of us wondering about where our food comes from, the "made in Canada" label should be a valuable tool.

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(Marketplace/CBC)

So Prime Minister Stephen Harper, with the blurry outlines of a farm and tractor behind him, announced this week that all food items labelled as product of Canada or made in Canada must have virtually all of its ingredients originating from this country.

If the product is made here with non-Canadian ingredients, the label must also make that clear, said Harper. However, there were no details on when the new rules will go into effect.

I'm sure if things get stalled, federal officials may have to watch out for Mesley dusting off her grocery cart.

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Comments

Heather

I saw this program and it made me feel quite powerless. I'm happy to hear that Harper wants Made in Canada products to actually be made in Canada and I'll help Wendy Mesley dust off that cart anytime she likes!!!

Posted May 24, 2008 06:29 AM

kasey

brantford

I've seen an article where cbc is dumping wendy mesley show marketplace for jeopardy....I wonder if it is because she was responsible for bringing forward the "products of canada' label scam and the Health check scam....and the mortgage insurance scam....she is by far more important to the viewers than Jeopardy which they can watch elsewhere....is Mr.Putin now in Canada?????? I always thought cbc.was for canadian broadcasting company not conservative broadcasting company....I know she made Health Canada look like a bunch of lowlife but she brought forth the truth.

Posted May 24, 2008 08:15 AM

doinkhead

I say, ABOUT FRIGGIN TIME!

Posted May 25, 2008 05:20 PM

Jack Mrnsie

Windsor

I can't believe the grocery stores would want to trick us...
I bet they will make isles that are products packaged here but not made here now.

Posted May 26, 2008 05:54 AM

aly

why does it matter where things are made?

Posted June 4, 2008 03:13 AM

Jon

The location where things (clothing, food) are made is very important to any local and sustained commercial activity. Buying locally, while impressing any green tree hugging hippy, will also help ensure jobs and careers in local communities. Furthermore, buying local ensures that local laws and production practices are adhered to, where buying from abroad ensures that clarity is kept in the dark.

Posted June 10, 2008 10:44 AM

Anne

I think it's interesting that there are still so many Canadians who, a) don't know why buying local is better, and b) don't care one way or the other.
To be honest with you, I think because our agricultural sector is as important to our economy as it is that we should be learning about this stuff from a very early age. Buying locally reduces the carbon that is released into the air by transporting goods around the world, and it helps create jobs for Canadians, and it helps our local economy, and it creates great morale among Canadians because they are proud of where their food comes from: HOME.
And for the people who don't give a darn? How about the "isolated" incidents when food that has arrived from other countries has caused illness to consumers, and their pets. This is a generalization, but how safer would you feel knowing your food was grown locally? Then, things that go wrong during production are local problems, not international ones.

Posted June 11, 2008 09:23 AM

Mary McCann

I agree "Canadian Products" should be clearly marked Canadian Made, if it has foreign ingredients, that should be made known to us as well. Also, Stephen Harper should set a date as to when this should occur like in the very near future.

Posted June 16, 2008 11:25 AM

Bernie Bailey

The new labeling could be- made /processed/produced /part of Canada, this is another smoke screen for the consumers , please go to your grocery store and ask the nice person that works there -were the apple came from and then tell him you would like it to be Canada he will go in the back of the store and bring a made in Canada label and put it on the apple for you . If any one out there thinks that the Canadian government has any control over multi national companies seeking globalization domination in their prospective categories I am sorry for you as it is the civil servants in this country that forced Canadian companies out of business in favor of globalization and the politicians of all suits played along and these companies get the ingredients from the cheapest source and send it all over the world to their plants. I know as I lost my company of thirty years standing up to the corruption, please Google-- I Owned the last independent dairy wingham--for an over view on this and Wendy sorry you did not received my documents on this civil servant corruption--my name is clearly identified and I am just one vote

Posted September 6, 2008 02:49 PM

Luis

Toronto

Consumer always needs to have information about the origin of a product in order to know the risk and traceability of what your buying. But i dont really agree with the fact that buyin local is better. There´s better and cheaper products in other parts of the world, buyin cheaper means, having more money,saving more or getting more!

I dont care about where a product is coming from as long is a reliable place and has passed certain controls!
If a canadian producer is not competitive, then goodbye, move on,spent your money adding value to your product, cos just sayin its from canada doesnt make it neccesarily better!most of the times, its just a lobby more that wants to keep their status!

Posted October 14, 2008 10:10 AM

Connie

Ontario

I would just like to say that "made in Canada" means a lot to me. I live in a farming community and buy locally when it is available. (Yes, I am a green tree hugging hippy type person) My biggest concern if for my child and threats from other countries with lower standards. I could use melamine as an example. We used to use canned mushrooms until we came to the realization that the water and the mushrooms came from China. The thought was just too much for me. We now drive 2 hours away to buy fresh localy grown and freeze them. Grocery stores are imported so we at least know the source.

Posted October 30, 2008 07:36 PM

Diana

Calgary

someone asked "why does it matter where things are made". ARE YOU SERIOUS? simply as one example, farmed salmon vs. wild salmon re: mercury contamination, or the chinese industries recent scandals where toys have been recalled because the paint on them contains lead, which can be harmful to children...main users of toys! I know most people dont have the time to research every little thing, but well known issues are often on the news or in popular periodicals if you read.

Posted October 10, 2009 12:41 PM

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From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.

About the writers

Amber Hildebrandt Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.

Andrea Chiu Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.

Tara Kimura Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.

Andree Lau Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).

Jessica Wong Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.

Kevin Yarr Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.

Elizabeth Bridge Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.

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