Dufferin Federation of Agriculture

Safe Food For Canadians Act is a win for the sector (2012)

By Mark Wales, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector never looks for shortcuts when it comes to food safety. The people working in our industry from coast to coast are trained to meet some of the highest food safety standards in the world. But even with these world-class standards, mistakes can happen. And when they do, they pose a food safety risk that can have a devastating effect on consumer health, and negatively impact consumer confidence for years to come.

That’s why the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) stands with other agricultural organizations including our federal counterparts in welcoming the federal government’s proposed Safe Food For Canadians Act, to bring much-needed upgrades to Canada’s aging food safety legislation. The proposed changes will also better equip Canada to maintain its reputation as a world leader in food safety and traceability protocols.

Among the proposed changes is a simplified, single window of legislation for the separate laws currently affecting fish, agricultural products, meat inspection and the food-related aspects of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act. OFA applauds this streamlined approach, and notes it is consistent with industry’s request from the recent provincial Open For Business consultations OFA facilitated on behalf of the agri-food sector.

The federal government also plans to increase penalties for serious food safety violations, including deceptive practices, tampering and hoaxes. Fines will be raised significantly, providing a stronger deterrent against practices that cause great harm to the industry.

Levelling the playing field for imports has been a long standing issue for OFA members. The proposed changes will now address the way food is imported to Canada. New import controls will include the power to prohibit the importation of unsafe food commodities. Importers will be held accountable for the safety of the food products they bring in, establishing a more level playing field between importers and domestic producers.

Finally, the proposed act also places a stronger emphasis on traceability. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency would be given the authority to develop regulations related to tracing and recalling food, and be better equipped to take action when a recall of unsafe commodities is required.

Food safety is a shared responsibility among all members of the agri-food value chain. The need to further strengthen Canada’s food safety laws has long been recognized in both government and industry. Changes proposed through the Safe Food for Canadians Act could go a long way in strengthening Canada’s position as a world leader in food safety legislation, and open up new markets in countries that share Canada’s core value in food safety.

 

For more information contact:

Mark Wales
President
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
519-773-6706

Neil Currie
General Manager
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
519-821-8883