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Harper Government Wants Tougher Food Safety Law for Canada

The federal government of Canada under Prime Minister Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party is pushing for a tough new food safety law with greater penalties for violators and more unified enforcement powers.

Harper’s government Thursday introduced the Safe Foods for Canadians Act, Bill S-11, to overhaul Canada’s food inspection system.

Albert Chambers, executive director of the Canadian Supply Chain Food Safety Coalition, immediately hailed the government’s new initiative as a “major step forward.”

“The Coalition is a long-time supporter of modernizing food safety legislation and regulations as a key element in the development of a national, coordinated and integrated approach to food safety,” Chambers said.

“The proposals in Bill S-11 meet many of the food safety objectives of both industry and government; they complete initiatives identified by previous governments; and, they will position Canada’s food safety regime well in the rapidly changing global regulatory environment,” he added.

His coalition includes 29 national associations, three provincial associations, and six food companies as allied members.  Together, the groups represent every link in the food supply chain from producers to distributors to retailers.

Chambers says the major elements of the bill are:

- Inclusion of a single act to replace Canada’s current series of food safety laws including the Fish Inspection Act, Meat Inspection Act, Consumer Protection Act, Labeling Act, and Agricultural Protection Act.

- Unified enforcement powers.

- Creation of new authorities for food safety regulation, including the authority to utilize incorporation by reference and considering tampering and hoaxes to be offenses

The Harper government wants to increase the maximum penalties for food safety violations to $5 million, up from present ceiling of $250,000.

Gerry Ritz, minister of Agriculture for the Ottawa-based federal government, says the new law will also strengthen the ability of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to track and recall food products and manage imports.

Canada wants a “farm to fork” traceability system, according to Ritz.

The proposed law would give industry new avenues to appeal some CFIA decisions, like those involving product seizures. A judicial review option would be available through Federal Court, much like the appeal system available to American food companies.

Canada’s Senate, which is taking up the bill first, is expected to begin debate on the measure as early as next Tuesday. A spokeswoman for Food and Consumer Products of Canada, representing food and consumer products industries, told CBC News the new law offers the prospect of less duplication.

Chambers says his member organizations have already begun reviewing the language contained in the new law, and hopes government officials will consult with them during the process of getting the new law adopted.

In their second year running the federal government, Harper and Ritz were criticized for their management of the deadly 2008 Listeria outbreak caused by contamination of luncheon meats made by Maple Leaf Foods in Toronto.

After 22 mostly elderly Canadians died in the outbreak, public opinion required the appointment of an independent investigator for the Listeria outbreak. Health expert Sheila Weatherill was given the job and came up with 57 recommendations for the Harper government to improve food safety.

Harper has implemented all 57 measures. The government has also steadily increased CFIA personnel levels since 2008, although critics say those gains might be threatened by future budget cuts.

© Food Safety News
  • Ajoy Daspurkayastha

    AS A QUALIFIED DOCTOR REMAIN AN EXACT FITNESS FOR THE PURPOSE OF A HOSPITAL SO ALSO A FOOD SAFETY EXPERT/ FOOD MICROBIOLOGIST / FOOD TECHNOLOGIST/ FOOD SCIENTIST IS THE EXACT FITNESS FOR THE PURPOSE OF FOOD INDUSTRY.
    A PATIENT HAS THE RIGHT TO ASK IF THE DOCTOR CHECKING HIM/HER FOR DISEASE IS A QUALIFIED DOCTOR OR, NOT?
    SIMILARLY A CONSUMER OF A PACKAGED FOOD PRODUCT HAS THE RIGHT TO ASK WHETHER IT WAS CHECKED BY A QUALIFIED FOOD MICROBIOLOGIST/FOOD SCIENTIST/FOOD SAFETY EXPERT OR, NOT ? SO DISCLOSURE OF FOOD FACTORY PRODUCTION AND QA/HACCP PERSONS’ QUALIFICATIONS AND TRAINING IS A BASIC REQUIREMENT IF YOU APPLY THE FUNDAMENTAL THEORY OF NATURAL JUSTICE IN THE REALM OF THE SAFETY OF FOOD TO PROTECT PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY OF PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE FOR AN ORDINARY CONSUMER .
    “A Hospital cannot function without a doctor so also a Food Company cannot properly function without food doctor( conceptually meant to indicate that they are food experts so to say through university/college/post secondary education) (food science/food tech / food safety personnel).A road safety Cop ask driver’s licence when he/she stops an earring/defiant vehicle as because the road safety cop believes by heart and soul that to drive a vehicle it requires a recognised qualifications like “Driver’s liscence”. “Appropriate qualifications in food science/food technology/ food safety is definitely required to become food safety drivers and to protect the public health and safety of paramount importance.

  • Ajoy Daspurkayastha

    Public disclosure of the qualifications of the personnel (both from the industry’s side and from the regulatory body’s side like that of CFIA’s side here in Canada)working in the food/meat processing plants both for the federally registered food/meat plants and also for the provincially registered food/meat plants . This public disclosure of the qualifications of the persons working in the food/meat industries in Canada will protect the consumers right to know who are inspecting our food in which plant from food/meat industry’s side and from CFIA/OMAFRA/MUNICIPALITY’S side and only then our food safety system at grass-root level will be strengthened .

  • Ajoy Daspurkayastha

    WU—THE FOOD SAFETY WARRIOR OF CHINA –MADE A HISTORY OF HIS OWN IN THE WAY ONE COUNTRY SHOULD MANAGE FOOD SAFETY GIVING MOST REASONABLE ACCESS TO INFORMATION OF PROBLEMATIC FOODS TO ITS CONCERNED CONSUMERS . ON MAY 2011 ALONE RECEIVED 404,000 VISITS ,COMPARED WITH A DAILY AVERAGE OF 10,000 AT ITS INCEPTION OF THE WEBSITE ON PROBLEMATIC FOOD AT http://WWW.ZCCW.INFO—–WU’S INSPIRATION OF THE PROBLEMATIC FOOD’S WEBSITE CAME FROM THE LATE U.S. PRESIDENT THEODORE ROOSEVELT’S REACTION TO PROBLEMATIC FOOD ——- ALSO REFERRED TO AS
    ( Reference :http://www.bjreview.com/health/txt/2012-06/04/content_457554.htm)
    QUOTE
    Food Safety Warrior
    A graduate student becomes the latest online phenomenon with his Internet database of problematic food
    Wu Heng, a 27-year-old postgraduate student in historical geography at Fudan University in Shanghai, never expected the food safety informationsharing website he created a year ago would go viral as it did in May. On May 11 alone the site received 404,000 visits, compared with a daily average of 10,000 at its inception.
    The website contains a 10-million-characterlong paper authored by Wu on China’s food safety situation and a map of China with regions in different colors to indicate food safety hazard levels between 2004 and 2011.
    The title of the paper is “Exchanging Feces to Eat: Food Safety Situation of China (2004-11).” According to Wu, “exchanging feces to eat” indicates that everybody living in a corrupt food supply chain, including suppliers of problematic food themselves, would become the victim of someone else’s wrongdoing.
    After a major scandal related to the use of waste leather scraps to produce the gelatin used for drug capsules was exposed by the media in early April, Wu wrote on his website that the paper he wrote one year ago was still relevant since there had been almost no improvement in systematic monitoring.
    “An author should take his or her article’ lasting relevance as the highest compliment while my feelings are deep regret and helplessness,” Wu said.
    Wu’s creation, Zhi Chu Chuang Wai (www.zccw.info), which means “throw it out of the window,” was inspired by his own suspicious food poisoning experience. Wu used to order braised beef on rice as a takeaway meal almost every day at the low price of less than 10 yuan ($1.58) per helping from an eatery next to his university. In April 2011 Wu, who repeatedly brushed off his roommate’s concerns about the quality of the beef, was startled to read a news report about the widespread use of a potentially harmful additive that lends pork the taste and appearance of beef. It was only then that Wu decided to launch his own campaign to heighten public awareness of problematic foods.
    The name of Wu’s website came from the late U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt’s reaction to problematic food. After reading a detailed portrayal of the unsanitary conditions and labor exploitation in Chicago’s meat-packing industry in Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle, the president reportedly threw his breakfast sausage out the window. Roosevelt later invited the author to the White House and launched an investigation into the appalling conditions described. Legislation followed.
    In two months, Wu and 34 volunteers he recruited through the Internet combed the Web to find all reports on problematic foods from reliable sources since 2004 and set up a database for the website. It went online last June.
    Wu said that within 17 days he and the volunteers read through more than 17,000 news reports of food safety scandals and found problems everywhere.
    At the end of the research, more than 2,800 entries were put into the database, which can be searched by using the locations of the incidents or types of hazards, such as expiry dates, illegal additives, unlicensed producers, poor hygiene, and poor packaging quality.
    Adopting an approach similar to Wikipedia.org, Wu’s website allows visitors to add new links to food safety news to its database without registration. The website’s volunteers will verify all contributions later and can only delete irrelevant, unreliable or repeated entries.
    Learning from the Darwin Awards, a tongue-in-cheek honor created to recognize individuals who contribute to human evolution by putting themselves unnecessarily in life-threatening situations, Wu set up a Darwin Award of Chinese Foods for the worst food scandal on the homepage of his website. Website visitors can cast a vote from 10 short-listed stories and a cash prize of 1.4 yuan ($0.22) is presented to the first reporter of a food scandal. The token 1.4 yuan prize will be awarded because 1.4 sounds like the characters for “dying together” in Mandarin Chinese.UNQUOTE

  • Ajoy Daspurkayastha

    CHINESE FOOD SAFETY AUTHORITY IN SANGHAI SUPPORTS MR.WU—“THE FOOD SAFETY WARRIOR OF CHINA”REQUESTS WU—TO HELP PROMOTE THE NEWLY OPENED 12331 HOTLINE DEDICATED TO HEARING ALL INQUIRIES AND COMPLAINTS ABOUT FOOD SAFETY AND THE REWARD FOR A WHISTLEBLOWER IS UPTO 200,000 YUAN($ 31,503 ) (Reference: —-http://www.bjreview.com.cn/nation/txt/2012-06/04/content_456955_2.htm )
    FOOD SAFETY MODERNIZATION ACT OF USA HAS GOT WHISTLEBLOWERS PROTECTION TO COMBAT ANY RETALIATION BY THE EMPLOYER TO ITS WHISTLEBLOWING EMPLOYEE (FORMER OR, THE EXISTING) IN ANY MANNER OR, FORM(IMPLIED OR,DEMONSTRATED) .(Reference :— http://www.slideshare.net/foodinteg/whistleblower-protections-in-the-food-safety-modernization-act )
    DO WE HAVE ONE SUCH PROTECTION IN CANADA LIKE THAT OF CHINA OR, THE USA IN THE PRESENT FOOD REGULATORY SCENARIO IN CANADA?
    (Reference: —-http://www.bjreview.com.cn/nation/txt/2012-06/04/content_456955_2.htm)
    BEIJINGREVIEW.COM.CN UPDATED: June 4, 2012 NO. 23 JUNE 7, 2012
    QUOTE
    Quote Food Safety Warrior
    A graduate student becomes the latest online phenomenon with his Internet database of problematic food
    By Li Li
    “All of us will eventually be killed by these harmful foods unless everyone steps forward and speaks out,” Wu said. Unquote
    QUOTE Government support In 2011, Wu was invited to a seminar on food safety held by the Chinese Academy of Governance as a representative of consumers. More than 30 heads of quality supervision of local governments participated in the seminar.
    Wu referred to this opportunity to talk with quality supervision officials a “positive interaction.” “Food safety problems cannot be solved by one person or one policy. My invitation at least proves that officials are willing to listen to the opinions of ordinary consumers,” Wu said.
    On May 15, nine officials from the Shanghai Food Safety Office met with Wu and applauded his spirit of social service and encouraged him to carry on the good work. At the two-hour meeting, Wu showed the officials selected comments on his website from netizens.
    Yan Zuqiang, director of the office, assured Wu that his agency is willing to provide any necessary support and professional assistance for the website when necessary.
    The officials also asked Wu to help promote the office’s newly opened 12331 hotline dedicated to hearing all inquiries and complaints about food safety. The reward for a whistleblower is up to 200,000 yuan ($31,503). During the first month of the hotline’s operation in April, it received a total of 4,160 calls, according to the Shanghai Food Safety Office.
    When asked to give an overall evaluation of China’s food safety situation by China Youth Daily, Wu is prudently optimistic. “I think it’s both the worst time and the best time. It’s the worst time because food safety problems happen almost everywhere in the country to all kinds of food. It’s the best time because these problems have been reported by the media. Letting people know what’s happening is the first step toward solving the problem.” UNQUOTE