So I am typically very good at reading food ingredient lists as well as looking at the country of origin. I grow my own vegetables when the Canadian summer permits, shop at the farmers markets whenever possible and purchase Canadian/American/Mexico fruits & vegetables during the off season. One of the most popular food brands here in Canada is Presidents Choice. They have TV ads that make you want to buy their stuff. Their spokesperson is the president and he looks pretty trustworthy.
So imagine my surprise when I opened a bag of President’s Choice Frozen Raw & Peeled Pacific White Shrimp and noticed a strong smell of chemicals, almost bleach-like. I turned the bag over and saw that they are farmed shrimp from India. Well WTF. Shame on me for not seeing this sooner. I unfortunately just assumed that with a Canadian brand it would be Canadian sourced, or at the very least North American.
This led me to question a couple of my other favourite President’s Choice products. Their Smokin’ Stampede Ribs (which are DELICIOUS) & cereal bars I used to give to my daughter. With the cereal bars I just never had the time or will to call and get a country of origin for the ingredients but the box does say Canada Made. The ever popular Mum-Mums cookies are sourced from China and say this on the box in the ingredient section (hence I stayed away from them).
So, I actually called a customer service representative at President’s Choice. I explained why I was calling originally (the funky smelling shrimp) and I gave her the product numbers of the ribs & the cereal bars. After a short hold she came back and told me the ribs were made using domestic and imported ingredients but she could NOT tell me if the meat was Canadian. Heck she couldn’t even tell me if the meat was North American. This is shocking to me. Maybe I’m crazy, but how the heck do you sell food to consumers and refuse to tell them WHERE IT COMES FROM???
She also mentioned that if I still had the bag of shrimp to let her know the lot number – unfortunately this was 3 days later and I did not keep the bag or take a picture of it.
So onto the cereal bars – she actually couldn’t give me any information on these but promised to call or email in the next 3-4 days with the information. Once again, what the heck. This is YOUR product why on earth is it a big secret where it comes from? I did receive an email from them and was happy to see that they are Canadian sourced and made and the email went on to explain with such strict Canadian regulations everything in the produce has to come from Canada to get that seal of approval.
So, back to the ribs, the fact that they refuse to release this information makes it look like they are hiding something. I am sure the food factories are up to standard in whichever country they are but I want to know WHERE MY FOOD IS COMING FROM! I am not asking for secret recipes.
I did try and search the internet for more answers but couldn’t find any. Interestingly enough there was a post on their Facebook page about dog food and a consumer had asked where the ingredients were sourced from. The answer from PC was “domestic and imported products.” So, basically the same places the ribs are from?
I love most PC products but I now know to read the labels and ensure the country of origin is clearly marked. I am unsure how a company can sell food without telling consumers where it has come from, especially meat. This obviously goes beyond PC and into government regulators but you think as a proud Canadian brand PC would go a long way in promoting Canadian pork for their ribs .
Maybe I’m just an idealist but I think not knowing where your food comes from is a terrible path to be on, especially when we live in such an agriculturally rich country. I doubt this extends just to President’s Choice but it is a brand I typically buy and was voted the second most “trust-worthy” in a recent Globe & Mail article.
I will still buy PC brand. Their stuff really is delicious. However between the shrimp & the ribs I’ve learned not to trust ANY food company at face value in any circumstance.