The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has outlined plans to standardise its inspection practices in an effort to keep up-to-speed with the changing food safety “landscape.”
The CFIA intends to standardise the inspection approach used in the country and provide consistent oversight across all regulated food commodities, according to draft report, The Improved Food Inspection Model: the Case for Change.
Since its creation in 1997, the CFIA has operated eight, separate food inspection programs - covering dairy, eggs, fish and seafood, fresh fruit and vegetables, imported and manufactured food, maple, meat and processed products.
According to the document, the current measures create a situation where “foods of similar risks may be inspected at different frequencies or in different ways.”
The paper is the latest step in the government’s plan to modernise food safety. In its 2011 budget, the CFIA was allocated $100m over a five year period to modernise its food safety inspection services.
Manage risk consistently
“Having eight food programs has resulted in the development and use of different risk management frameworks, inspection methods, and compliance verification and enforcement approaches,” said the document.
“This challenges the CFIA to manage risks consistently across different types of establishments and different foods. It creates situations in which foods of similar risks may be inspected at different frequencies or in different ways.”
“This new, more comprehensive food inspection approach aims to include more consistent oversight and management of risk across all regulated food commodities – whether imported or produced domestically. It will also support the next-generation food inspector with new tools and training,” said the report.
The proposal is the CFIA's latest effort to keep up with changing food manufacturing practices and food safety concerns.
“The way that food is produced and distributed has undergone fundamental changes in recent decade. The food safety landscape has become more complex, driven by widespread changes in methods of food production and processing, coupled with rapid increases in global food trade.”
“New food safety risks are emerging as a result of globalisation and innovation in the food industry; and the ability to detect those risks is improving due to advances in science and technology,” the report added.
Import safety regulations
The Case for Change document is the latest in a growing list of proposed food safety-related regulatory amendments made by the CFIA and the Canadian government.
Earlier this year, the CFIA urged the development of new food import safety regulations.
If approved, the Imported Food Sector Regulatory Proposal will see the implementation of specific measures to identify, report, and recall potentially hazardous products from the market.
This has since been followed by efforts to “streamline” the country’s food safety laws to reduce the ‘red tape’ that currently delays safe food products entering the Canadian market.