The hides, which have been issued with health certificates by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), were collected from provincial meat processing plants in Canada. Barrett Hides of Barrie, Ontario, warned the CFIA in the autumn of 2008 that this practice was going on but CFIA refused to stop issuing health certification up until the beginning of June, despite the warnings. The destination of the hides is believed to be Portugal.
According to EU regulations introduced two years ago all raw hides for export have to be post and ante mortem inspected. Hides from provincial meat plants in Canada are not post and ante mortem inspected therefore they are ineligible to be imported into Europe. There is also an unsubstantiated suspicion that render hides have been imported into Europe and it is confirmed that some of the hides that have been imported into Europe have been in contact with render/dead stock hides according to Barrett Hides.
Leather International has contacted the CFIA and a number of Canadian parliament and opposition members. Patrick Brown, MP for Barrie, has told us that he has asked for a response from the Canadian minister of agriculture, Gerry Ritz, as his office oversees the CFIA. It is believed that an investigation is ongoing.
The CFIA have so far refused to comment on why they continued to issue the health certificates despite the earlier warnings. It appears that they continued to issue health certificates when they knew the hides were banned from being exported to Europe and choose to ignore the correct protocol for the exportation of hides into Europe.
Tanners, particularly in Europe, may be affected by such practices as the ineligible hides being shipped to Europe are undermining the European hide market and more importantly hides that have not come from ante and post mortem inspected plants could carry a major concern with regards to disease and animal health. The EU banned the import of such materials following major outbreaks such as BSE and foot and mouth in recent years.