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Canadian Coalition Wants on PM’s Agenda

The Canadian Supply Chain Food Safety Coalition is asking Prime Minister Stephen Harper for a new round of consultations between Ministers of Health, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the agri-food industry.

The ten-year old Coalition, which represents all segments of the food chain, said it “anticipates that food safety initiatives will be included in the upcoming Speech from the Throne.”

That March 2nd speech opens Parliament in Canada.  It will set the Conservative government’s agenda.

The Canadian Supply Chain Food Safety Coalition told Harper In a Jan. 28th letter that it would like “to bring to the consultations table” an initiative based on four guiding principals.  The four principles are:

  1. Food safety is a shared responsibility of all participants in the supply chain (input suppliers, businesses involved with production, processing, manufacturing, importing, distribution, retailing and marketing of food), all levels of government, and consumers.
  2. Governments at all levels, the agri-food industry, and other stakeholders should foster and facilitate the development of an integrated, co-coordinated, and national approach to food safety policy and regulation based on sound scientific risk assessment and risk management principles and on international standards.
  3. Industry and government food safety initiatives should encourage the implementation of HACCP and/or HACCP-based food safety systems by businesses all along the supply chain.
  4. Food businesses, governments, and other stakeholders have a responsibility to adequately resource, proactively manage, update, maintain, and continually improve their individual and collaborative food safety systems and food safety initiatives.

The Harper government is implementing all 57 recommendations from the independent investigation of the 2008 Listeria outbreak from contaminated ready-to-eat meats made by the Maple Leaf Foods plant in Toronto.  Last week, however, its food safety system led by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) was under attack from labor and consumer groups for not improving fast enough.

Food safety was not mentioned in President Obama’s 70-minute State of the Union speech to Congress.  But in its letter to Harper, the coalition says: “The expected passage of major reforms to food safety legislation in the United States will significantly change the regulatory environment in our continental food market.”

In Canada, the Prime Minister writes the Speech from the Throne but either the Queen or more typically her representative, the Governor General, reads it.   That means if food safety is on the PM’s agenda, it will very likely be in the speech.

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