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OTTAWA (Reuters) - If a food item says "Product of Canada," all the ingredients and the processing will soon have to be Canadian under new rules announced on Wednesday by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Harper said the government wanted to avoid a situation in which shoppers would not know that apple juice saying "Product of Canada" might be made from Chinese apples, for example.
"It is time to tighten up the definitions so Canadians know exactly what they're getting and get exactly what they want," said Harper, standing in front of an orchard in Beamsville, Ontario, west of Niagara Falls.
Current rules state that a label can say "Made in Canada" or "Product of Canada" if 51 percent of the production costs are Canadian and the last substantial transformation of the product took place in Canada.
Under the proposed rules, "Product of Canada" will refer to a product that is all or virtually all Canadian. A qualified label would be able to be applied to food containing foreign products, for example "Made in Canada from imported ingredients."
The new regulations, on which the public will have three weeks to comment, are part of the government's food and consumer safety plan introduced in December after a series of food, toy and drug recalls.
Harper also said in answer to a question that if Canadians wanted to support domestic food producers the "Product of Canada" label would assist them.
Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Rob Wilson