The Norman Transcript

News Features

June 7, 2013

Canadian charity fights red tape



Customs officials also told the charity that the truck could enter the United States as a commercial shipment, which meant that all food had to be certified by the Food and Drug Administration.

Sauve said officials told the charity to get rid of a skid of Basmati rice because the United States has restricted imports of that product. Sauve offered to take the rice off the truck, but customs officials later reversed their decision and said the rice could stay.

Nearly 70 percent of the items in the shipment were donated, which sent volunteers scrambling to gather the documents that customs agents required. A broker working on the project helped volunteers estimate the value of each item and certify its country of origin, then sent the additional paperwork to customs.

The truck remained in Leamington, a Canadian city about 25 miles north of the border, for nearly four days while customs officials reviewed the information, Sauve said. Officials cleared the truck for entry on Saturday as a commercial shipment, and the driver headed to Oklahoma.

Customs agents had to be sure the food in the shipment satisfied the Food and Drug Administration’s documentation requirements, said Kris Grogan, public affairs officer for Customs and Border Protection in Detroit.

Grogan said a broker representing Windsor Lifeline Outreach contacted customs agents on May 29 about the shipment. He added that the agency worked with the broker and officials with the Food and Drug Administration to make sure the supplies met federal paperwork requirements.

“From the time we got the initial call in Detroit, we were working around the clock to help the broker get the required paperwork and the registrations under the FDA bioterrorism act,” Grogan said.

He said the truck arrived at the Ambassador Bridge — a border crossing connecting Detroit with Windsor —at about 7:15 p.m. Saturday. Within 30 minutes, customs agents had inspected the shipment and sent it on its way.

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