Romaine Lettuce from the United States

Navigating Regulatory Import Requirements and Contractual Obligations

Romaine lettuce from the United States (U.S.) is in full swing. It is important to remind the industry to be informed of Canadian regulatory import requirements and aware of contract expectations for this commodity.

Multiple cases of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses in Canada have been linked back to romaine lettuce from specific areas of California in the past. Therefore, adhering to regulatory import requirements is essential. On July 20, 2023, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) issued a notification outlining Temporary Import Requirements for Romaine Lettuce from the United States.

These Canadian requirements affect any romaine lettuce and/or salad mixes containing romaine lettuce from a recurring geographical area associated with the U.S. outbreaks. This area encompasses the California Salinas Valley counties of Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Benito, and Monterey.

When importing romaine lettuce and/or salad mixes containing romaine lettuce into Canada, Canadians are required to do the following:

  1. Provide proof that the product does not originate from the counties mentioned above.
  2. If the shipment originated from the counties mentioned above, an attestation form and Certificates of Analysis for each shipment must demonstrate that the romaine lettuce does not contain detectable levels of E. coli O157:H7.

It is common knowledge that U.S. growers/shippers include exclusionary language in their invoices. For example, “bruising and/or discoloration following bruising” would be inserted. This is an essential aspect that buyers need to be aware of. While buyers in the U.S. are familiar with this exclusion, it doesn’t necessarily automatically apply to other jurisdictions like Canada (unless it can be proved that this exclusion was agreed).

It is imperative to look closely and double-check all documents you are receiving, including all contract terms that were agreed upon. If you notice a wording or term you are unfamiliar with or did not agree to, immediately bring it to your supplier’s attention, preferably in writing.

In the event of a dispute, the burden is on the parties to prove that all terms were discussed, Understood, and Agreed Upon (DUA). If you buy romaine lettuce from the U.S., you must be aware of any exclusionary language used and double-check all documentation. As best practice, verifying documentation to ensure contract terms are as agreed should not be limited to romaine lettuce only. Take the necessary precautions and avoid potential disputes by reading and understanding all documentation accurately.

If you have any questions regarding the article, or you have media enquiries, contact: 

Nicole MacDonald
Communications & Marketing Specialist
Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation
[email protected]

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