By Magpie Group
In Canada, food safety is a top priority
Food safety is a shared responsibility of all those involved in food production: farmers, food manufacturers, food distributors, food service establishments, retailers, and federal, provincial and territorial governments. Even you, the consumer, has a role to play in food safety.
There are also complex food safety standards at all levels of the food supply chain. Health Canada is the government body responsible for creating the safety and nutritional quality regulations, policies and standards of all food sold in Canada. This includes:
- The Food and Drugs Act, which ensures that all food sold is fit for human consumption.
- The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act requires prepackaged consumer products to supply accurate labelling information to help you make informed decisions.
- The Canada Agricultural Products Act sets out the national standards and grades, and regulates marketing of agricultural products.
- The Safe Food for Canadians Act protects against food tampering, provides better traceability to track food safety issues, as well as oversees food imports.
- The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for enforcing the food safety regulations and standards that Health Canada sets.
Food safety recalls are a good thing! They indicate that the system is working to catch food that poses a risk to the public.
Food safety starts at the farm
Farmers and ranchers understand that healthy animals produce healthy food. To meet Canadians’ high standards for food safety, farmers must follow many strict procedures and protocols.
Traceability involves strict reporting requirements that ensure the animals they care for can be traced through the supply chain back to the farm it was born on. Should a disease outbreak or foodborne illness occur, the infection can be tracked to help stop the spread of disease and prevent it from entering the food system.
Another key component of food safety is biosecurity. This refers to the preventative measures farmers take to stop diseases from coming onto their farms in the first place.
One of the most important strategies for food safety, though, is the on-farm food safety programs developed by national industry organizations. All programs are industry-led, audited by people who have no affiliation with the farm operation and are based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles. These programs are monitored and approved by CFIA and require detailed on-farm record-keeping and reporting procedures.
Most species in Canada have their own set of food safety programs. Examples are:
- Canadian Pork Excellence (CPE) is a Canadian Pork Council program that all farmers who raise pigs must follow. One of the components of CPE is PigSAFE, which provides the means for producers to demonstrate sound animal management to promote safe food production.
- Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+) helps certified beef cattle farmers and ranchers prove their operations comply with for food safety, animal care and environmental stewardship standards. Producer participation in the program in optional.
- proAction®, a Dairy Farmers of Canada initiative, is a quality assurance program to guarantee that Canadian dairy farmers produce milk responsibly. All dairy farmers must follow the proAction program.
- Raised by a Canadian Farmer On-Farm Food Safety Program created by Chicken Farmers of Canada is a mandatory program that emphasizes animal health, cleanliness and safety throughout each step of production.
- Start Clean-Stay Clean® is an Egg Farmers of Canada initiative. Producers must meet six critical control elements and achieve an overall score of at least 90% to pass the programs audit.
There’s no question that farmers are dedicated and committed to producing your food safely and sustainably. They know that the safe production of food is one of their key mandates and aim to do the best possible job they can. After all, the health of their animals and their livelihoods depend on it!
Farmers work hard to provide for their families, care for the animals they raise and grow food safely and efficiently. The decisions they make daily influence their ability to produce nutritious and high-quality food in a sustainable, responsible way that ensures future generations can continue to farm. Canadian agriculture has created sustainability and farm stewardships initiatives to guide production and management practices in almost every sector.
Learn more about these programs here:
- Protecting Biodiversity: Environmental Farm Plans
- Healthy Soil For Today And The Future: 4R Nutrient Stewardship
- Encouraging Responsible Use Of Pesticides: Pesticide Applicator Licence
- Recycling On The Farm: Cleanfarms
- Ensuring Animal Welfare On Canadian Farms
- Traceability: Locating And Controlling Disease Along The Food Chain
- Biosecurity: Keeping Animals Healthy On Canadian Farms
- Codes Of Practice: The Building Blocks Of Quality Farm Animal Care