January 23, 2018

Canada’s Food Safety System Ranked Best in the World

According to the government of Canada, their food safety system has ranked first out of 17 countries on food safety performance. The University of Guelph’s Food Institute compared the food safety systems of 17 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The ranking scores are determined by 10 indicators in the areas of assessment, management, and communication.

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Other countries in the study included Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Canada and Ireland tied for first. France was second, and the UK, Norway, and the United States were in the top five. Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) helped fund the report.

Researchers also looked at prevalence of foodborne illness, recalls, standards of traceability, public trust, pesticide use, and food allergies. Canada scored top marks in pesticide use and food allergen control. Canada has 3,577 federal food safety inspectors, which is more than many other OECD countries.

But Canada has problems with traceability, which the report claims is very poor for produce and non-animal food products. “Canada has no national supply chain traceability regulation in place, notably for commodities and products outside animal production,” according to the report. Traceability is critical for tracking contaminated food once an outbreak has occurred.

Political posturing in Canada may affect their food safety system, since the Conservative government may be proposing millions of dollars in cuts to the CFIA. Canada’s public service union has been critical of the proposed cuts that are part of a restructuring, which they say may cut almost 200 inspectors.

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