A proposed new food safety model that would "standardize"Canada's approach to federal food inspection across allcommodities and products has been laid out for stakeholder comment. The federal government on Friday released a discussion document proposing a "more effective and efficient food inspectionsystem" that would "standardize requirements andprocedures across all food, based on science and risk." The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, when set up in 1997, broughttogether and currently operates eight separate inspection programspreviously handled through different federal departments with"diverse" approaches: meat, dairy, eggs, seafood, freshfruits/vegetables, imported/manufactured foods, maple, and"processed products" such as honey. The multiple inspection regimes, the government said, have led tosituations in which "foods of similar risks may be inspectedat different frequencies or in different ways." Also, the eight food programs leave food industries "having tomeet multiple and different requirements that are challenging toaddress." "Industry will benefit from a more consistent inspectionapproach across commodities that is adaptable to the size andcomplexity of their operations," the government said Friday. "Standardized processes will reduce the duplication andfinancial burden associated with overlapping requirements." "Simply put, we want Canadians to have the safest food in theworld," Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in CFIA'srelease. "That is why we are seeking input from consumers,inspectors, food safety experts, industry and everyone who has arole to play in food safety." The discussion document follows up on "engagementsessions" the CFIA held with its staff, unions, consumerassociations and "industry stakeholders" starting inDecember last year, the government said. |
"For (CFIA) employees, there is clearly an appetite for changeand an identified need for a common suite of inspection activitieswith standardized processes," the document says. "For theindustry, the model should be flexible, clarifying roles andsetting outcome-based requirements." "Residual risk" The new model proposes that industries which import or export food,or operate as manufacturers or processors of food products fortrade between provinces, would be required to obtain licenses andregistrations to operate. A given industry would then be held responsible for "designingand implementing preventative control plans for (its) uniqueoperations" and CFIA would then verify that theindustry's plans "appropriately prevent, eliminate orreduce hazards to acceptable levels." "Residual risk," meaning the risk that remains oncepreventive controls are in place, and considering anindustry's compliance history, would determine the level ofinspection oversight required from CFIA — that is,"normal, enhanced or reduced." The frequency and scope of CFIA inspection activities would also be"adaptable, as required, to the size and complexity of theregulated parties' operation." The new single compliance and enforcement strategy would be"based on the principle that industry is responsible forproducing safe food that complies with regulatoryrequirements." Under that model, industry would be held responsible to take actioncorrecting the situation. Compliance and enforcement activitieswould be "transparent, predictable and appropriate to thelevel of non-compliance." In cases of "critical or repeated" non-compliance, anindustry's licenses to operate could then be suspended orrevoked. Stakeholders will be able to submit feedback on the discussiondocument to CFIA until July 31, the government said.
From that feedback, CFIA would then draft an "improved"inspection approach which would then be refined by way of"continued stakeholder consultation throughout the year.".
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