The Canadian Supply Chain Food Safety Coalition yesterday wrote to federal, provincial and territorial ministers calling for them to announce the details of future food safety programming and funding at their November 16 and 17 meeting the new policy framework - Growing Forward. "Food safety is a matter of interest to all Canadians and the Canadian agriculture and food industry recognizes that it has a definite role to play alongside governments and consumers in assuring food safety," said Heather Holland, Coalition chair. The group, which represents members throughout the food industry supply chain, asked ministers to consider six recommendations as priorities at their upcoming meeting in Toronto. These include engaging the food supply chain and consumers next year in a focused review of the national food safety strategy and the development of a new vision of food safety in Canada to replace the 1994 Blueprint. Additionally, the Coalition requested a strong commitment to greater harmonization of food safety policies and regulations across the nation. It is also calling for the implementation of the infrastructure to support industry-based food safety and traceability programs, and for increased implementation assistance for micro, small and medium-sized businesses in all sectors of the food industry. Public funding under the Growing Forward initiative should also be streamlined, it said, and made more efficient. In addition, there should be an increase in public funding for consumer food safety education within the initiative. Finally, the Coalition called for creating continuity with the Agriculture Policy Framework over the next 14 months by completing the development of the official recognition program for on-farm food safety programs by the end of 2007; fast tracking consultations with industry to expand the official recognition program for HACCP-based food safety programs to the post-farm segments of the supply chain by April of 2008; and developing other components of the national infrastructure for food safety management systems, including the requirements for food safety auditors by the end of 2008. "The announcement of transitional funding for 2008 is particularly important as it will provide existing industry-led initiatives with the assurance they need to maintain their development and implementation work beyond 28 February 2008. Without transitional funding for all or a major part of 2008/9, these initiatives will be terminated or cutback severely," said Holland.
A Canadian food industry body has urged the nation's ministers of agriculture to consider a number of food safety recommendations, including a greater harmonization of food safety policies and regulations across jurisdictions in Canada.