June 23, 2018

New Federal Food Safety Law for Canada

The Canadian House of Commons has approved Canada’s new federal food safety law¬†Bill S-11. The vote was unanimous. The plan was passed by the Senate in October 2012.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency¬†(CFIA) has detailed provisions of the plan. Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said, “Canadian families will be better protected by the passage of the Safe Food for Canadians Act. The CFIA will have stronger modernized tools to better protect Canadians and enhance industry compliance.

The huge XL Foods beef recall for E. coli 0157:H7 this fall, which resulted in millions of pounds of ground beef and whole muscle beef products, may have played a part in the unanimous vote. So far, 16 people in Canada have been sickened by the outbreak strain of the bacteria. The XL plant was closed by Canadian government authorities, and reopened only after the giant processor JBS took over the facility in September. As a result of millions of pounds of potentially contaminated beef being imported into the U.S., Food & Water Watch, along with other organizations, asked Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to examine the equivalency determination with Canada regarding the safety of their food products.

According to the CFIA, the new Act will institute a more consistent inspection regime across all food commodities, implement tougher penalties for activities that put the health and safety of Canadians at risk, and give inspectors an enhanced ability to compel food producers to provide information in a timely manner. The Act will also give the CFIA authority to require traceability systems for food producers and processors. The government will have better control over imports and exports, and strengthen food traceability throughout the chain.

Tougher fines for activities that risk the health or life of Canadians will increase to as much as $5,000,000 or even higher at the court’s discretion. New penalties were also added for tampering, deceptive practices, or hoaxes. You can find more information about the Act at the CFIA web site.

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