Harmony sounds like a good thing, so when Canada and the United States announced a new, high-level initiative to harmonize the standards of food between the two countries, then that must be good, too.
Unfortunately, harmony in this case means lowering Canada's food standards to the U.S. level. This article cites some of the differences between the two countries:
Canadian regulations further stipulate that sausages sold here must contain a minimum of nine per cent meat and no more than 40-per-cent total fat, while U.S. rules don't set minimum meat content for many sausage products.
American shoppers can buy dairy products that tout certain health virtues of probiotics. Here, you can't sell a product making the same ambitious claims.
Which food would you rather eat?
It's bad enough that NAFTA has forced Canada to accept high-fructose corn syrup (glucose-fructose). And that processed cheese in Canada can be identified as cheese in the U.S. And that Coffee Mate is a non-dairy creamer in the United States while Canada's more precise definition is coffee whitener.
If this Regulatory Cooperation Council deal required the U.S. to raise its standards to the Canadian mark, we would be cheering this legislation.
President Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper are touting this initiative as a way to speed up cargo crossing between the borders. We have gone on record as saying trade should travel freer between the two countries (tourists as well). But this looks more like an excuse to favor U.S. companies at the expense of Canadian food consumers, and a missed opportunity to help U.S. food consumers.
If either government would like to prove us wrong, we will give space here for a rebuttal. In the meantime, be on your guard.