In early October, the CFIA conducted an on-site visit in California to review the results of the U.S. investigation. To meet requirements stipulated by the CFIA, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has implemented a new origin identification program to verify that product has not originated in the San Benito and Monterey counties. In addition, following the outbreak, the CFIA strengthened its import and domestic microbial sampling program for leafy greens.
U.S. exporters can only ship product to Canada if they officially declare that it was not grown in either of these Californian counties. A false declaration is punishable under the U.S. Perishable Agriculture Commodities Act. This origin verification program will remain in place until the end of the shipping season in these counties, toward the end of November 2006. Afterwards, U.S. spinach will be allowed entry into Canada without origin declarations.
The Pundit has expressed mixed feelings on this matter. To some extent, there may be some protectionism here, but in another sense the FDA was so illogical, one day claiming this massive problem, then the next day lifting the advisory not to eat spinach without much explanation, that Canada really was guilty of taking the FDA more seriously than the FDA did.