"Food safety is a priority for this government," said Agriculture minister Gerry Ritz. "We continue to work with consumers, producers, industry and our provincial and territorial partners to ensure that our food safety system remains one of the best in the world."
“Action on Weatherill Report Recommendations to Strengthen the Food Safety System: Final Report to Canadians” outlines the government's work to reduce food safety risks, enhance surveillance and early detection of foodborne pathogens and illnesses, and improve emergency response.
"We have taken concrete action to improve how we detect and respond to foodborne illness outbreaks," said Health minister Leona Aglukkaq. "From stronger response plans with our food safety partners to using innovative technologies in our labs, we are better prepared to protect the health of Canadians."
The government of Canada has made significant investments to improve the food safety system. In 2009, a $75 million investment was provided to further improve Canada's ability to prevent, detect and respond to future foodborne illness outbreaks. Budget 2010 allotted an additional $13 million annually for two years to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to fund increased inspection capacity for meat and poultry processing facilities. Budget 2011 provided a further $100 million over five years to invest in inspector training, tools and technology, and science capacity. All of these investments build on the government's 2008 commitment to invest $489.5 million over five years in the Food and Consumer Safety Action Plan.
In 2009, the government of Canada committed to act on all of the report recommendations. The final report highlights the actions taken to strengthen the food safety system, including:
-- Identifying and fast-tracking the approval of food safety interventions, such as food additives that reduce the growth of Listeria monocytogenes and other pathogens.
-- Hiring 170 additional full-time inspectors to increase CFIA's presence in federally registered meat processing plants.
-- Developing new detection methods for Listeria and other hazards in food that reduce testing time and enable more rapid response during food safety investigations.
-- Using innovative laboratory technologies in outbreak investigations and expanding the outbreak detection lab network to include public health and food safety partners across Canada.
-- Supporting national public health surveillance to improve collection, reporting and analysis of a wide range of health information.
-- Providing Canadians, including those most vulnerable, with the information they need to reduce the risk of a foodborne illness through a new online food safety portal and national public information campaigns.
-- Updating the Foodborne Illness Outbreak Response Protocol, which guides how all levels of government work together to respond to a national or international outbreak.
-- Ensuring that health risk assessment teams are available 24/7 to support food safety investigations. -- Building surge capacity in order to respond more quickly and effectively to potential future foodborne illness outbreaks.
The final report can be found on the government of Canada's food safety portal at www.foodsafety.gc.ca .
From the December 20, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.