Leamington Produce Grower Fined For Mislabeling Imported Tomatoes

A huge fine has been handed to a Leamington produce company for mislabeling the origin of some of its items.

AMCO Produce Incorporated pleaded guilty to three counts and has been ordered to pay $210,000 and will be on probation for three years.

Paul Bailey is a lawyer for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, who prosecuted the case and says mislabelling produce is a very serious matter.

"Where they're grown they may have totally different regulations about what pesticides are available for use and so I know in some cases pesticides are used in come countries that we've outlawed in the '60s.  So it's very important that we know if its an Ontario tomato or not"

He points out the implications of the offence are significant.

"If a foreign tomato is shipped into Canada and re-labelled as an Ontario tomato and then shipped to the US that could close down the whole border"

He says they prosecuted to make sure competition in the industry is fair.

"This area is intensely populated with hard working honest vegetable growers and the profit margin is thin.  They have to compete with vegetable growers who cheat and that's just not fair to the industry"

Bailey says the mislabeling took place over a number of years.

He explains the probation for the company means it must be open to snap inspection of all financial and other matters to the extent of supplying keys to inspectors for the federal government.