Food Safety in Canada: Everybody’s
A Dissenting Opinion by the
Conservative Party of Canada on the Report of the Subcommittee on Food Safety
Party of Canada presents this report regarding the recent study on food safety
by the subcommittee, established by the Standing Committee on Agriculture and
Agri-Food, as our witnesss believe that the main report does not sufficiently,
accurately and/or fairly address certain issues.
The safety of our
food is an issue that all Canadians care about. The Listeriosis outbreak of
summer 2008 was traced back to ready-to-eat meat products produced at a Maple
Leaf Foods plant in Toronto. Sadly, 22 people died from listeria-related
diseases and many more became sick. This tragedy has raised some questions
about the food safety system in Canada.
In this context,
the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food (SCAAF) struck the Food
Safety Subcommittee with two general goals:
Study the Listeria outbreak of 2008 and make
recommendations for future outbreaks of this kind.
Study Canada’s food safety system in general and
make recommendations to improve food safety in this country.
on Food Safety has heard from witnesses from all over Canada, all levels of
government, farm groups, food processors, food retailers, food safety academics
and experts, and of course consumers. One common theme that has come from every
witness is that we expect a safe supply of food and that everyone needs to work
together – from the farm gate to the kitchen plate – to ensure that our food is
In Canada, food safety is a shared responsibility between industry, federal and provincial
governments and consumers. Food processors have the responsibility to produce
safe food, government has the responsibility to set the standards for food
safety and enforcing those standards and consumers have the responsibility to
handle food safely. Health Canada is the federal department responsible for
developing the standards industry must follow and the Canadian Food Inspection
Agency (CFIA) is the government’s regulatory authority to ensure industry
adheres to the standards.
human-illness outbreak occurs, jurisdiction rests with municipal and
provincial/territorial authorities to manage the outbreak and conduct the
epidemiological investigation. Once the outbreak crosses provincial boundaries,
the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) takes the lead on managing the
outbreak. It is up to the public health authorities to determine the source of
the outbreak and in the case a food is identified; public health must inform
the CFIA to conduct a food safety investigation to pinpoint the specific source
and initiate a recall.
listeriosis outbreak called into question CFIA’s approach to inspection in
ready-to-eat meat plants as well as the approach taken by the responsible
agencies and departments that manage foodborne illness outbreaks when they
of ready-to-eat meat plants is based upon its inspection staff carrying out a
series of tasks under the Compliance Verification System (CVS). CVS was developed by CFIA for federally registered plants, all of which operate under a
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) system. HACCP, was designed to
improves food safety by identifying the areas in a plant (or a farm, grocery
store, or any other portion of the supply chain) where potential food safety
issues may arise and stipulates actions required to correct the problem and
mitigate the risk to food safety. Maple Leaf Foods had a HACCP system in place
however; it did not anticipate the buildup of organic material deep inside the
meat slicers, where the most likely source of contamination was discovered. It
wasn’t until the slicers were fully disassembled that the material was
discovered. The Committee heard that CFIA inspectors disassembled slicing
equipment as part of their regular inspections however testimony from Dr. Brian
Evans refuted those arguments and stated that “to infer that in fact we, at CFIA, were somehow dismantling
slicers on our own in past years I don't think is accurate.”
Experts from CFIA
and Maple Leaf concluded that this organic source was the most likely source of
listeria contamination. Dr. Brian Evans again testified that “what was critical
to this whole event was this determination at the end of the day that in spite
of cleaning and disinfection and breaking down of equipment according to
manufacturers' specifications, beyond the cutting and contact surfaces, a new
threat, a new issue, was identified in this particular circumstance, which we
had no knowledge about, that could colonize deep into the equipment.”
even testified that, “No amount of inspection, be it higher or lower, would
have changed that outcome. If you want to go to the exact cause of this
outbreak, it was not about a lack of inspection. It wasn't about the lack of
product testing or a lack of inspectors.”
Witnesses directly involved in the Maple Leaf plant repeated Mr. McCain’s
opinion that the inspectors at the plant did their jobs and were adequate.
The management of
the outbreak also revealed coordination issues revolving around the recall
process, internal and external communications, and responsibility when it came
to all agencies involved across all levels of government as well as industry,
specifically Maple Leaf Foods. Lessons Learned reports were done by CFIA,
Health Canada, PHAC, and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.
Additionally, Maple Leaf Foods provided the subcommittee with its own analysis
of what lessons it learned.
In addition to
these Lessons Learned reports, the Prime Minister of Canada announced in
September 2008, that he would launch an independent investigation into the
outbreak. Shelia Weatherill was subsequently appointed to this position and her
report is expected to be completed in late July, 2009.
A. Hazard Analysis and Critical
Control Points (HACCP)
HACCP is an
internationally accepted approach to manage food safety risks that ensures that
industry and CFIA inspectors work cooperatively throughout the product line to
ensure that potential risks are identified and managed. There was a general
consensus among witnesses that the science-based HACCP system is the best way
to identify and address potential problems early in the supply chain, before
they occur. In regards to the importance of HAACP in facilities like Maple
Leaf, Dr Brain Evans testified that “HACCP helped them arrive at a conclusion
much earlier than would otherwise have been the case.”
CFIA should continue to work with Industry to develop HACCP, as it focuses
on the prevention of food safety risks, rather than ‘after-the-fact’ detection
on end products.
Verification System (CVS)
CVS is an
inspection tool that was developed by CFIA in 2005 and piloted in 2006 to give
inspectors a checklist to ensure the existing HACCP systems in place at a food
processing facility are monitored and audited in a consistent manner across the
country. CVS was fully implemented in April 2008 and adds new
requirements to traditional inspection tasks where inspectors must review
paperwork to ensure a plant is following its HACCP plan properly. For example,
an inspector reviews records to ensure cleaning and disinfecting is taking
place regularly and that a plant is conducting the microbiological testing
required. Inspectors are also required to watch how the cleaning and
disinfecting is done to ensure it is being done properly and they are required
to conduct their own microbiological tests.
CVS has been criticized as
“privatizing meat inspection” because companies are required to keep records to
demonstrate they are adhering to their HACCP plans and do their own testing in
addition to the government testing. According to Dr. Brian Evans, “CVS is not privatization,”
and does not leave food safety in the hands of industry. Testimony to the
Committee has shown that the Government has not and has no plans to privatize
inspection. CFIA will always play its role as regulator and inspector. CVS
tasks are continuously evaluated to ensure they remain current and relevant
however, some concerns were raised by various groups that CFIA didn’t evaluate
CVS properly before fully implementing the system.
On September 5,
2008, CFIA improved food safety controls ready-to-eat
plants by adjusting CVS tasks for its inspectors to control bacteria and other
food borne pathogens in federally registered ready-to-eat meat plants. CFIA
also directed industry to aggressively and thoroughly clean slicing equipment;
enhanced oversight of sanitation and equipment maintenance, started reviewing
company records of end-product and environmental test results on a daily basis;
started analysing trends in positive environmental test results to flag any
potential problems early; and completed a review of cleaning and sanitation
programs used in all federally registered ready-to-eat meat plants.
CVS should remain the fundamental system that guides inspectors and
assures consistency and uniformity in their inspection activities.
CFIA needs to undertake a full evaluation of CVS to ensure that it
is working to its full effectiveness.
As of April 1,
2009, it is mandatory for food processors to report the results of their
environmental tests to CFIA. This will allow CFIA and industry to analyze
trends of positive listeria results to preemptively flag potential problems.
Testimony from Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister,
Gerry Ritz; President and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods Inc.,
Michael McCain; Executive Vice-President and Chief Veterinary Officer of
Canada, Dr. Brain Evans; and president of
the Agriculture Union of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Bob Kingston all supported the importance of environmental testing.
Mr. McCain stated that, “the new listeria policy, we believe, is a very
significant material step forward,” and that the “the most important question
in enhancing food safety has to do with how you interpret the data.”
With this change, CFIA will be able to analyze the data and
take immediate corrective action when required.
In 2005, under the
previous Government, mandatory testing and reporting by CFIA was cancelled. As
a result, Maple Leaf Foods was not required to submit its environmental test
results to CFIA in the months leading up to the outbreak. For three months
before the outbreak, Maple Leaf Foods collected periodic positive environmental
tests results for listeria but was not required to submit the results to CFIA.
As a result, CFIA was not informed of the listeria problem in the Maple Leaf
Foods’ Toronto plant. Since April 1, 2009, plant operators must conduct
environmental testing and immediately report any positive listeria results to
CFIA. The new policy also adds additional environmental and end-product testing
done by CFIA. With the new listeria policy now enforced an event like last
summer “could possibly”
be prevented, according to the CFIA inspection supervisor for the affected
Maple Leaf facility, Don Irons.
testing for listeria not been cut in 2005, CFIA may have detected problems
sooner. CFIA now does a data trend analysis on environmental listeria test
results taken by food processors and acts preemptively to determine its root
Government of Canada should continue to support the new mandatory requirements
for listeria testing and reporting as well as trend analysis by industry to
D. Recall of
Maple Leaf Products
In his statements
to the subcommittee, Dr. Brian Evans summarized the timeline from last summer,
“The listeriosis outbreak began in early June and was detected by public
health officials in Ontario over the ensuing seven weeks. Detailed
investigative work at municipal and provincial levels led to their advising the
CFIA on August 6th, 2008, that a possible food link was
suspected. It was on August 6 that the CFIA was first informed
of a public health investigation into two listeriosis cases in a nursing home.
Samples taken 16 days previously from meat used to make sandwiches in early
July at the facility had tested positive. On August 8th CFIA
determined the source plant and began to investigate unopened samples across Ontario to determine how many products were affected. By August 16th, CFIA had
the test results required to initiate the recall with Maple Leaf.”
In order to do a recall, CFIA
requires a link to a specific product. If on July 21st Toronto
Public Heath had sent proper samples with the right product information CFIA
would have been able to react sooner.
Office of Food Safety and Recall (OFSR) is responsible for conducting food
safety investigations and initiating recalls when a food-borne illness is
suspected. OFSR is an independent body with protocols that require them to take
action as soon as they are informed of a potential food safety risk.
In order for a
recall to be triggered, the CFIA has make a scientific link to the right food
source (including product and lot codes) before the public is notified. If a
recall goes out too early, misinformation can have a worse effect than an
accurate recall at a later date. In Dr. Brain Evan’s testimony, he cited the U.S. example of inaccurate information on a strawberry recall
several years ago. He went on to explain that giving the public
“information that we can't validate …perhaps puts them at greater risk and
cause them to change their behaviours”
is more harmful than no information. As a result of the raspberry recall, US
consumers switched from eating strawberries to raspberries, but months later,
it was determined that raspberries were what should have been recalled.
The CFIA should
maintain its evidence-based methodology of initiating recalls.
The issue of how the federal
government communicated with the public during the outbreak was raised by many
witnesses. Statutory requirements put the Chief Public Health Officer out front
as the primary spokesperson for the Government of Canada. However, as ministers
and the government are ultimately held accountable to answering the concerns of
Canadians, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food along with representatives
of the CFIA and the Chief Public Health Officer conducted 14 press conferences
between August 24 and September 9, 2008 to brief the media and to keep
Canadians informed. Despite this strong government presence, many felt that
Maple Leaf Foods did a better job communicating directly to the public through
television commercials and other forms of advertising.
CFIA did note in its testimony that
it can only notify the public when an issue tied specifically to food has been
identified. They can not act on hunches and risk getting it wrong. However, the
provincial health authorities are not under the same legal restrictions that
bind CFIA, and may have communicated a public health risk to the public much
sooner. Instead, as Dr. Williams of Ontario testified, they abdicated that
responsibility to the federal government.
These faults in communication were
noted by all government agencies in their testimony and the Lessons Learned
reports provided to the subcommittee.
government should review its protocols on providing timely, accurate
information to the public and put in place the necessary protocols and resources
to ensure that there is better communication to the public during a food-borne
Internal communications between the
responsible federal and provincial authorities was another area that all
parties agreed need to be improved. The Foodborne Illness Outbreak Response
Protocol (FIORP) was not activated by neither the federal government nor the
provincial governments despite being a Federal/Provincial/Territorial agreement
designed to facilitate communications during this very type of outbreak. The
purpose of the FIORP is to establish clear lines of communication and protocols
for all partners to follow. In addition, CFIA did not activate its emergency
command centre, despite its sole purpose of managing emergency situations such
as this one. As a result of this inaction, there was confusion among the
partners as to who had the lead for which part of the investigation and which
agency had the authority to do what.
The general consensus from
witnesses is that Canadians do not want a food borne outbreak to become an
opportunity for government agencies and departments to flex their bureaucratic
muscles against each other – rather they would prefer that these agencies
cooperate to put an end to whatever is happening.
Internal communications by the
federal agencies, provinces and regional health authorities have improved since
the outbreak. The Executive Director of the Canadian Meat Council, James M.
Laws commented on the improvements in the Government agencies coordination, “Well,
I can say that I think we've been very happy with the Government's actions
lately on the header1N1 flu virus. That's the type of response we'd like to see in
the future for other food safety events like this one.”
of Canada should support Health Canada, PHAC and CFIA’s effort to improve
communications between themselves and other jurisdictions.
should be activated when a food borne outbreak becomes apparent in order to
better facilitate cooperation and communication between all levels of
government and their respective agencies and departments.
Food safety is a shared
responsibility from farms to the processing industry and all levels of
government and even in our kitchens. Testimony from the president of CFIA,
Carole Swan, states that “Responsibility for food safety does not reside in one
person or one institution. There is a network of people and organizations
responsible. Government has an important responsibility. We are responsible for
setting strong standards and holding industry to account. But, ultimately,
industry has responsibilities, as well; they have responsibilities for
producing safe food. There is a great deal of shared responsibility. CFIA is
one player in a continuum of players who are responsible for making sure that
the food Canadians eat is safe.”
The Codex Alimentarius (published
by the World Health Organization and the Food and Agricultural Organization of
the United Nations) states that everyone, including farmers and growers,
manufacturers and processors, food handlers and consumers, has a responsibility
to assure that food is safe and suitable for consumption. The Canadian Food and
Drug Act also clearly describes the shared responsibility between Government
Maple Leaf Foods has taken
responsibility for the listeriosis outbreak. Industry is ultimately responsible
to ensure the products they produce, import, store and distribute are safe for
consumers. They must identify potential issues and assist with food safety
investigations. Industry also initiates or responds to direction to implement a
CFIA contributes to the control of
food borne outbreaks through its food safety investigations and recalls, as
well as its compliance and enforcement activities. It also notifies the public
when specific food safety issues have been identified. Food inspection
programs administered by the CFIA confirm that establishments have taken the
appropriate steps to produce safe food products.
Health Canada establishes food
safety standards and policies along with decision-making with respect to a Risk
Assessment Process. It also releases communication of issues related to food
The Public Health Agency of Canada
(PHAC) is usually the first point of contact at the federal level for food
borne illness outbreaks. It is in charge of public health surveillance and
leads during an epidemiological investigation when cases occur in multiple
provinces or if requested by a province. PHAC also releases communication of
issues with a human health impact, including notification of the public.
The province/territory leads
investigations of human illness outbreaks within their boundaries including the
epidemiological investigation. They also release communications of issues with
respect to human health issues, including notification to the public.
Minister of Agriculture and
The Minister acted as the
Government’s lead spokesperson to Canadians to keep them updated of the Maple
Leaf outbreak. The independent government agencies conducted themselves
appropriately and independent of the Minister’s influence. The agencies in fact
did their job as they are required to do so by legislation.
Testimony from the
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, Dr. David Butler-Jones, indicates that
there was no political interference and the agencies involved were allowed to
do their jobs. Dr. Butler Jones said, “no one gave me
direction about what information to provide, what questions to answer, how to
answer questions, or what actions to take, from the Public Health Agency. No
one. If they had, I would have resisted it. This is not a political role. That
is clearly why this position was established with that measure of independence
on matters of public health. No one from the Prime Minister's Office, the Prime
Minister, no minister, no minister's office, said, “I want you to say this. If
that was ever an issue I would have resigned.””
The public, as
consumers of food products, also have a responsibility to ensure their food is
safe. Testimony placed the number of food borne illnesses in Canada at thirteen million every year. Most of these are due to improper handling of food in the
kitchen or undercooking high-risk products like meat. It is incumbent upon the
consumer to ensure that they follow the preparation and cooking instructions of
the product they are to consume.
from several witnesses pointed to the fact that despite efforts on the part of
Health Canada and CFIA to educate consumers about proper food handling and
cooking, the message still needs to be reinforced. The federal government can
play a positive role in this area by promoting such safe practices to
Due to the
complexity of food production the Government of Canada should continue to
underscore the importance of the work with the provinces and territories to
strengthen the shared responsibility approach to food safety.
of Canada should adopt a plan to increase awareness and education of the public
as to the importance of food safety at home.
G. Independent Investigator
The Prime Minister appointed Shelia
Weatherill to be an Independent Investigator to assess how the Government
agencies involved in last summer’s Maple Leaf Foods listeria outbreak
preformed. Mrs. Weatherill is a highly qualified expert who has all the powers
and resources to follow the evidence wherever it leads. The setup and practices
of the independent investigator are identical to the Auditor General’s
authority in an investigation. The Independent Investigator’s mandate requires
Mrs. Weatherill to submit her report to the Minister of Agriculture and
Agri-Food by July 20th.The Minister of Agriculture assured the
subcommittee that he will make her report and her recommendations to
strengthen our food safety system public.
The Independent Investigator
testified that she had the “power, mandate, and resources to fulfill the
expectations and conduct this investigation.”
of Canada should review all findings of the Independent Investigator’s report.
of Canada should release the Independent Investigator’s report to the public.
outbreak of 2008, while a tragedy, is not indicative of Canada’s food safety system overall. There is a general consensus throughout Canada, supported by the witnesses that testified at the subcommittee, that we have one of the
safest food systems in the world. However, there is always room from
improvement. Areas identified for improvement include strengthening CFIA’s
inspection resources and regime, the need for clarification between federally
inspected plants and provincial ones, CFIA’s role as regulator of
imported/exported foodstuffs, Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) restrictions on Canadian livestock exports, traceability of livestock and other agriculture
products, and on farm food safety.
Resources and Regime
There has been testimony that CFIA
needs increase its resources and training for inspectors. Bob Kingston has
claimed that “as a consequence of a lack of resources, there isn't time to
train the inspectors.”
The budget and inspector increases do not back up that claim. The budgets for
CFIA have increased as follows 2005-06: $489.0 million, in 2006-07: $571.5
million and in 2007-08: $639.4 million. The budget for CFIA was only cut in
1994, 1995 and again in 2005. Additionally, the Government of Canada invested
$113 million in the Food and Consumer Safety Action Plan in Budget 2008. In the
Economic Action Plan for Canada, Budget 2009, the Government also announced an
additional $250 million to upgrade federal labs, including those of CFIA.
of Canada should continue to make food safety a priority and provide CFIA with
adequate budgets to ensure Canada’s food system is safe.
The Government has
empowered CFIA inspectors with the most effective methods of inspection through
CVS and HACCP. CFIA inspectors have the necessary resources to do their job.
The Government has hired, in its first two years, over 200 new inspectors. CFIA
has increased its staff by 14% since 2006.
The Government of Canada should hire more inspectors as warranted
and provide the proper training and resources for them to do their job.
The issue of
federal versus provincial/territorial inspection standards was hotly debated
among those who testified at the subcommittee hearings. Some witnesses, such as
Mr. Peter Stein of Piller Sausages and Delicatessens Ltd. argued that “all
plants, both provincial and federal, should be included in the scope of the new
listeria policy released this past April 1st.” Others argued that a
single standard would put local abattoirs who simply could not meet the federal
requirements out of business. Jennifer MacTavish representing the Sheep
industry summed this up: “If it's a reciprocal agreement among provinces
so a domestic trade can occur, that would be wonderful. We do not want to put
the smaller processing plants in any kind of a position where their livelihood
would be threatened.”
A one-size fits all approach to
both provincial and federal inspections does not make sense in a country such
as Canada. What may be acceptable in Quebec may not be acceptable in British Columbia. It is not the role of the federal government to dictate to the
provinces/territories the standards they have to adopt for their own
provincially regulated markets. This position is backed up by the constitution
which clearly splits federal/provincial/territorial jurisdictions in
agriculture. However, as some witnesses indicated this does not preclude the federal
government from urging cooperation among all levels of government to adopt
equivalency without driving local abattoirs out of business.
The Government of Canada should ensure that its food safety
standards are applied consistently across Canada in all federal inspected
components of the supply chain.
The Government of Canada should encourage its provincial/territorial
partners to adopt an equivalent food safety standard in all
provincial/territorial abattoirs without putting undo pressure on smaller
operations which may cause them to go out of business.
that “exporters know between 72 hours and 30 days in advance whether
their meat shipment to Canada will require visual inspection, full inspection,
or no inspection.”
While it is reasonable for CFIA to give warning to Canadian importers that the
product they are expecting may be detained for inspection, such a system should
be enforced with the threat of random, unannounced spot checks.
CFIA should review its policies and procedures with respect to
advance warning for imported meat products to Canada.
There was a
general consensus that “imported products must meet the same standards
and regulations that we face here in Canada.”
The CFIA meets these standards through equivalency agreements with our trading
partners. We only import products from countries that have food safety
standards equal to those of Canada.
The Government of Canada should continue to ensure imports meet the
same standards as domestically produced products.
Testimony on pre-market
registration for meat products stated that it is not a food safety issue.
Ensuring what is on the label is not a food safety issue. “Getting a label
pre-approved—that's the important part—by somebody sitting in Ottawa who may
never have been into a meat plant in their entire lives has nothing to do with
There was conflicting testimony
throughout on pre-marketing labelling with the Beef Information Centre
Executive Director, Ms. Lisa Mina, testifying that, “rigorous monitoring and
enforcement of product labels play a role to maintain confidence in the
perceived safety of food products, such as meat, in Canada.”
of Canada should review the present system of pre-market labelling to protect
the integrity of imported agricultural products while providing greater
flexibility for Canadian companies to provide these imported products to
consumers in a timely and safe manner.
E. Country of
Origin Labeling (COOL)
COOL restrictions have been put in
place by the U.S. Government as a ‘food safety’ measure. However, the general
consensus is that COOL is not a food safety program but rather a non-tariff
trade barrier to Canadian and other food exports to the United States of
America. The Government of Canada has challenged the unfair COOL restrictions
at the WTO in order to reach a negotiated settlement. The Government will
continue to stand up for Canadian producers to ensure they are treated fairly.
Livestock industries on both sides of the border are concerned about COOL.
These restrictions are detrimental to the free flow of trade with the U.S.
The president of the American Meat
Institute, James Hodges testified that the Canadian Government’s stance on COOL
is beneficial to the cattle industry in both countries “Trade action related to
COOL is an appropriate remedy. It is a regulation that is not food safety. It
is a regulation that is an impediment to trade.”
of Canada should continue to challenge COOL at the WTO and strive for a
Traceability is a theme raised from
all sectors of the supply chain. The ability to trace a product, be it a live
steer on the farm or a box of asparagus at the grocery store, from a specific
outbreak to its origin will not only allow faster product recalls it will boost
confidence in Canada’s food supply.
One area that Canada is making progress in traceability is that of live cattle, especially in the wake of the
initial BSE cases in 2003. Witnesses testified that BSE dealt a severe blow to
the confidence of international markets in Canadian livestock and led to the
closing of many borders to our cattle. One of the ways of restoring that
confidence in the safety of our cattle is by being able to show potential
customers the traceable history of that particular cut of meat or live animal.
It is clear from the testimony that traceability is a key component of Canada’s food safety system.
In the new Growing Forward
Framework for Agricultural there is almost $100 million for food safety systems
and traceability initiatives. The Government has invested in
traceability under Growing Forward as another way to improve food safety.
The Government of Canada should continue to invest in traceability
to further protect the initial stages of the food supply chain and increase
competiveness by ensuring these costs are not passed on to Canada’s primary
G. On Farm Food
The first step of food safety
begins on the farm. The Government of Canada supports on-farm food safety
program. Many producer groups testified that the food safety system begins with
HACCP based systems on the farm. HACCP systems allow producers to focus on the
most vulnerable areas of food safety. “Thousands of on-farm food safety manuals
have been distributed on farms across Canada, I must note that the
accomplishments would not have been possible without the collaboration and
support, in financial resources and technical expertise, of both Agriculture
and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The Government of
Canada has made considerable investment in helping industry develop the
program. The importance of this support cannot be emphasized enough.”
The Government’s commitment to
on-farm food safety needs to be in the domain of an efficient and streamlined
regulatory system. “There needs to be some incentive for producers to
participate. In the best case scenario, producers will be implementing the
program in response to market incentives where they get paid a premium.”
of Canada should support farmer’s efforts to produce safe food, implement farm
HACCP systems, and ensure producers can operate in the most competitive
Food safety is the
responsibility of all Canadians. The listeria outbreak has shown that even with
the most sophisticated risk-based approach to food safety, sometimes things can
literally fall between the cracks and grow into large problems. The emphasis
needs to be put onto all levels of government to ensure that the food they
inspect is safe for consumption and that when a health incident does occur;
cooperation takes precedence over turf wars. It is equally incumbent upon
industry to ensure that the food they grow, process, transport, sell, and cook
for Canadians is safe. Finally, it is up to the consumer to ensure that the
food they eat is handled and prepared properly. It is when all of these groups
work together, we can all be sure that our food is safe.