Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has launched a new roundtable focused on giving consumers an additional opportunity to raise concerns and discuss ways to further improve Canada’s food safety system. 

It continues a trend in a number of countries in which food safety regulators are reaching out to various groups for advice with the formation of specific advisory panels.

This new forum was created as another way the Government of Canada says it is improving transparency, consultations and communications with Canadians. 

Creation of the new forum was one of the recommendations made in the 2008 report of Sheila Weatherill, the independent investigator who looked into the Maple Leaf Foods outbreak that killed 22 mostly elderly Canadians.  

Canada’s conservative government has promised to implement all 57 of the independent investigator’s recommendations.  

“Canadian families have always played a front-line role in food safety, whether it’s in their kitchen or when providing valuable feedback to our Government,” said Minister Ritz. “Food safety is a top priority for our Government and this new, consumer-focused forum will help make Canada’s food safety system even stronger.”

Ritz said the roundtable will improve collaboration with consumer associations and will share information and ideas important to all Canadians and give consumers a stronger voice in food safety and related issues under the mandate of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Eight core consumer associations with national or significant regional representation will make up the roundtable. Additional representatives, experts and speakers will be invited to participate. 

Dr. Brian Evans, of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), and Chief Food Safety Officer and Chief Veterinary Officer for Canada, will chair the roundtable, which will take place at least twice annually, with contact being maintained throughout the year as issues requiring input arise.