Greenhouse vegetable grower AMCO Produce Inc., Leamington, Ontario has been fined $210,000 by the Superior Court of Ontario. In a random check, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) discovered mislabeled peppers at the Ontario Food Terminal in February 2013. Peppers labelled as Canadian-grown were suspicious in February as it’s too early for the local growing season. The country of origin was Mexico. After a lengthy investigation of company records, it was determined that the infractions occurred from 2012-2014 concerning produce worth $333,000.
AMCO Produce pled guilty to three charges under the Food and Drugs Act, Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and the Canada Agricultural Products Act.
The Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) issued a statement March 21, indicating that it is aware that AMCO Produce Inc., a licensed OGVG marketer, was before the courts on March 12 answering to charges laid by the CFIA for misrepresenting vegetables in the marketplace. The OGVG does not condone these actions and has been following the legal process closely.
“The seriousness of the convictions will be reviewed through our own internal process and it would be unfair to make any further comments on this issue,” wrote Joe Sbrocchi, OGVG general manager “without first having the opportunity to review the facts in great detail.”
The issue concerns greenhouse vegetable producers, he wrote, because they work hard to differentiate products in the marketplace and to make consumers aware of the advantages of purchasing local Ontario greenhouse vegetables.
Incorrectly labeling imported produce as being Ontario product not only misleads consumers but also negates the investment that Ontario producers make every day into producing a superior product to meet consumer demands.
“We will be reviewing the evidence presented in this case, and will take whatever actions that we deem appropriate to protect the sector, our producers and consumers.”