The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has released a draft about improving their food inspection model. The single system model would replace the eight different inspection systems currently in place. Now, the inspection models covers dairy, eggs, meat, processed foods, imported and manufactured food, fish and seafood, and fresh fruits and vegetables separately.
Each facility will be issued a single license. Additional licenses will not be required for additional activities or products. The facilities will provide information about their business, such as management’s commitment to meeting regulations, preventative control plans, that key personnel have completed food handling training, and which products will be produced under different processes.
This information will help the CFIA develop a profile of the companies, how they conduct business, and a base of knowledge about the different food sectors. Inherent risk will then be determined, which will set the level of oversight and conditions of licensing.
Agriculture Gerry Ritz said in a statement, “we have a world class food safety system in Canada but we want it to be the best. A single inspection approach will make an even stronger system that will benefit all Canadians.”
The CFIA is seeking comments from consumers and those in industry until October 31, 2012. These are the aspects of the new model under consideration: a single licensing and registration requirement; more consistent oversight and inspection; a scaled approach that adapts to the size and complexity of the business; and distribution of more information to consumers about compliance and enforcement.
Canada’s conservative government is cutting the budget for the CFIA by $56 million over the next three years. Spending on food safety alone is being cut by $21 million. One hundred inspectors will be laid off, and almost half of the agency’s veterinarians will be “affected” by the budget cuts. The CFIA is going to stop checking nutrition labels for accuracy, and some inspection actions, such as part of the meat inspection process, will be moved to the oversight of provinces.
The Agriculture Union PSAC has started a campaign called Food Safety First to publicize these changes. They want the Canadian government to hire additional inspectors, declare a moratorium on industry self-policing, and remove obstacles preventing inspectors from taking immediate action when serious health problems arise.