The Canadian government has released draft guidelines for improvements to the food safety inspection system, including a single, consistent approach to all food commodities, whether Canadian or imported.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said on Thursday that the new guidelines are the result of discussions with stakeholders, as well as the findings from a document released in May, called The Improved Food Inspection Model: the Case for Change, which outlined the areas in which the agency’s inspection approach needed modernizing.
Since it was set up in 1997, the CFIA has operated eight different inspections systems, separately covering dairy, eggs, fish and seafood, fresh fruit and vegetables, imported and manufactured food, maple, meat, and processed products.
For its new draft model, the agency is seeking comments on a single licensing and registration requirement for those trading outside provincial borders; consistent oversight and inspection across all food commodities; a scaled approach, adapted to the size and complexity of businesses; and distribution of more information to consumers about enforcement and compliance activities.
“We have a world-class food safety system in Canada but we want it to be the best,” said agriculture minister Gerry Ritz. “A single inspection approach will make an even stronger system that will benefit all Canadians.”
The draft guidelines are just the latest move to revamp Canada’s food safety and inspection systems among several from the Canadian government in recent months. Its 2011 budget included $100m over five years for the modernization of food safety inspections in Canada. Other complementary initiatives include the Safe Food for Canadians Act, proposed in June, which aims to strengthen food safety legislation and would consolidate the Fish Inspection Act, the Canada Agricultural Products Act, the Meat Inspection Act, and the food provisions of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act.
Comments on the latest draft guidelines are open for consumers and industry stakeholders until October 31, 2012. Click here for more information.