The Fruit Fiasco

Spring 2017 CSANews Issue 102  |   Posted date : Mar 14, 2017.Back to list

Bird talk - Le Jaseur
Ed: In CSANews Issue 101 we, meaning me, provided an incorrect response to a Bird Talk letter from Weldon Hehr regarding importing fruit from the U.S. into Canada. I am not sure where my mind was when I answered the question, because I have often imported fruit from the U.S. myself. I also send fruit baskets back to Canada for friends' special occasions. We received dozens of letters and they were all wonderful to read and most had been well-researched. Several letters outlined their experiences at the border and the comments of their border officer. Doug McLennan of Nanaimo, B.C. and Garry Korotash of Edmonton, Alberta sent the following replies:

Citrus Fruits into Canada
I just read with interest your response to Weldon Hehr’s post in the recent CSA News magazine (issue 101) concerning his question about bringing grapefruit and lemons into Canada from Arizona.

We have been bringing such fruit into Canada (via the Peace Arch entry) for the past three years. When I first inquired about this with the Customs folks and, in particular, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, I was able to find a very descriptive outline of which fruits and vegetable are allowed back into Canada, by travellers. In that website posting, it listed citrus fruits and indicated that up to 240 kilograms of this fruit were allowed to be brought back into Canada. So we pack a large storage container of oranges from our home in Arizona with us and declare them at the border. So far, we have been able to bring these across with us with no difficulty.

However, since looking this up and prompted by your response to Mr. Hehr, I thought I’d better check again. The Canada Food Inspection Agency website has changed since I looked it up three years ago and, in fact, is much simpler to follow:

The website to look for is: "What Can I Bring into Canada in Terms Of Food, Plant, Animal and Related Products.”

It lists as one of the allowable foods to be brought into Canada: “15 packages or less up to 250 kilograms of fresh fruits and vegetables per person (excluding potatoes)." I subsequently called the Inspection Agency info number and spoke to a very helpful lady there who confirmed that yes, you can bring in citrus fruits (up to the 250-kilogram limit). She was not able to confirm if the fruit needed to be in packages, but was confident that if the fruit was in bulk (in a storage container) this would be okay. This is consistent with my experience as well. But, she was very careful to point out that apples were strictly VERBOTEN!! (as well as other pitted fruits).

Hopefully this helps.

Doug McLennan,
Nanaimo, BC

Dear Bird Talk:
I have just reviewed the Canada Gov. website and see that in your Bird Talk winter issue 101 you are wrong. The Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) confirms if a specific item is allowed.

Fruits and vegetables, including herbs: dried

  • up to 15 packages per person
  • but not more than 250 kilograms

Fruits and vegetables, including herbs: frozen or canned

  • fruits up to 15 frozen packages or 15 cans per person
  • but not more than 250 kilograms
  • vegetables ?up to 20 kilograms of frozen or chilled vegetables per person

Fruits and vegetables: fresh
  • one bag up to 4 kilograms of U.S. number 1 potatoes per person and the bag must be commercially packaged
  • 15 packages or less up to 250 kilograms of fresh fruits and vegetables per person (excluding potatoes)
  • must be free from soil, pests, leaves, branches and/or plant debris
  • some restrictions on some fresh fruit and vegetables from California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington
  • in British Columbia (BC): restrictions on fresh apples, stone fruit and potatoes

Use Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) to confirm if the product is allowed, before bringing it into Canada.

Kind Regards,
Garry Korotash,
Edmonton, AB

Response :
Ed: Several people, including D.H., Wayne Amundsen, Harris Toth, Brian Kisinger and Doug Saumer, referred members to the Government of Canada AIRS website for further information.
See below:

Mea culpa, and thank you for helping us set the record straight.

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