New food safety act to simplify inspections
Posted: Jun 7, 2012 7:42 AM ET
Last Updated: Jun 7, 2012 9:47 AM ET
The federal government is expected to introduce its new food safety act today, aimed at simplifying the way food is inspected and monitored across Canada.
There are currently eight different areas of food inspection, from dairy and eggs, to seafood, to processed meats.
Depending on what's being made, food products fall under different pieces of legislation and different inspection rules. So if one company makes a soup with chicken and seafood, it must maintain two separate inspection systems.
"You would have to have two different quality systems on file, on paper, addressing essentially the same quality programs and points and safety factors … to meet the existing regulations," food safety specialist Susan Abel told the CBC Radio's Susan Lunn.
Abel is the food safety expert for Food and Consumer Products of Canada, the national industry association representing the food and consumer products industry.
22 people died
Abel says having one set of inspection regulations, and one piece of governing legislation, will mean less duplication. She also hopes it will cover sectors that are less regulated now, such as baked goods.
NDP agriculture critic Malcolm Allen, however, wants to make sure the Canadian food inspection agency is still doing inspections.
"Checking the boxes off and signing the paper on the bottom saying everything is wonderful — we witnessed that once before, and 22 people died," he said, referring to the listeriosis outbreak in 2008, when 22 people died after eating contaminated cold cuts.
The changes being proposed now actually stem from the government's investigation into those deaths, Lunn reported. That final report made 57 recommendations to make sure problems with food safety don't happen again.