Canada’s food safety system has been under fire ever since a listeriosis outbreak killed 23 people in 2008 and an E. coli contamination in 2012 that led to the largest meat recall in Canadian history. U.S. auditors found enough deficiencies in Canada’s food safety system in 2012 to give it an “adequate” rating, the lowest allowed in order for Canada to continue to export meat products south of the border. In that same year, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency experienced layoffs that Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz promised would not affect food inspection.
The CFIA says it has “zero tolerance” for drugs getting into the food supply. Yet they knowingly permit kill buyers and anonymous sellers to have control and input over the food system by allowing them to use the falsifiable EID to record drug use in horses. In 2012, European regulators announced the seizure of Canadian horse meat that tested positive for phenylbutazone and clenbuterol.
Somewhat incredibly though, the non-profit Conference Board of Canada recently ranked Canada’s food safety system as #1 in a report entitled “2014 World Ranking Food Safety Performance.” Using 10 undisclosed performance indicators, their report identifies and evaluates Canada relative to only 17 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries (there are 34 member countries). The report title is rather misleading in our opinion, since Canada has not been evaluated against all or even most of the 195 recognized sovereign nations in the world.
Political satirist Rick Mercer is an expert at lampooning Canadian politics – in this “rant” he discusses the XL meat recall – “the entire system is designed to keep us in the dark,” and refers to Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz as “a minister who spends half his time in witness protection.” (Note to Torontonians – you may recognize horse meat restaurant La Palette in the background in Mercer’s video – La Palette has been the subject of many protests by horse advocates).
Read the Conference Board of Canada’s report here.
Conference Board of Canada – Ottawa, November 20, 2014—Canada ranks first, followed by Ireland and France as the top 3 countries in food safety performance according to the 2014 World Ranking Food Safety Performance, a new report produced by The Conference Board of Canada’s Centre for Food in Canada in collaboration with the University of Guelph’s Food Institute.
“Canada’s excellent grades in most food safety performance metrics were due to its consistently low number of food-borne illness cases and reported recalls, Canada’s new policy on allergen labeling and a greater focus on transparency,” said Dr. Jean-Charles Le Vallée, Senior Research Associate and lead author of the report. “This is good news as public trust for our food safety system is also growing.”
- Canada and Ireland followed by France earned top grades among 17 OECD countries in an overall ranking of food safety performance.
- Sixty-seven per cent of Canadians believe their food to be safer than it was five years ago.
- The report evaluates food safety using ten food safety indicators organized in three food safety risk governance domains.
“Given that our economy is more globalized than ever, understanding other food safety regimes is critical moving forward,” according to the report co-author Dr. Sylvain Charlebois of the University of Guelph’s Food Institute. “Increasingly, more food regulators around the world will compel industry to become more accountable to consumers in order to better mitigate systemic risks.”
Although 67 per cent of Canadians believe their food to be safer than it was five years ago, work remains to improve the system’s performance with more frequent reporting and relaying of information to the public about both chemical risks in food consumption (Total Diet Studies) and nutrition and dietary studies, with additional improvements to traceability and radionuclides standards.
Using 10 performance indicators, the report identifies and evaluates selected common elements among global food safety systems. It provides an overall world ranking of food safety performance for 17 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries illustrated by 10 indicators organized across three food safety risk governance domains: assessment, management and communication.
The report was prepared by The Conference Board of Canada’s Centre for Food in Canada in collaboration with the University of Guelph’s Food Institute.
The Conference Board of Canada will be hosting a live webinar discussing the results of this report on November 21, 2014.
This publication is available for free at www.e-library.ca
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