Friday, April 10, 2015

New food safety initiative

The federal government has unveiled a new food safety initiative – the Food Safety Information Network – that will be funded with $30.7 million to embrace three bureaucracies that report to Health Minister Rona Ambrose.

The goal is to more rapidly identify and limit food safety threats.

It is also to align with provincial food safety laboratories in rapid response to food safety incidents and emergencies through near real-time sharing of information and improve Canada's ability to anticipate and detect routine foodborne threats, officials said in a news release. 

Benefits from the new network, say officials, include:

Faster, more proactive food safety interventions;
More preventive food safety programs and inspections to better protect consumers;
Strengthened laboratory emergency response during food safety incidents and emergencies (which should speed-up recalls, for example); and
Improved guidance on reducing food safety risks. 

The FSIN will standardize food safety testing and leverage existing laboratory capacity, and enhance Canada's ability to provide evidence of the integrity of Canada's food supply to trading partners, officials said.

Partners in FSIN include the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). The FSIN will be implemented in a five-year process that will link federal and provincial food safety establishments and accredited laboratories nationwide.

Canada’s 2014 budget committed $390 million to strengthen Canada's food safety system.

More recent news reports indicate that the CFIA is cutting budgets, but it’s not clear how many of those cuts apply to food safety and how many apply to the parts of the CFIA