Ottawa, ON – The federal government has announced $75 million over three years to improve the country’s food safety system. The wide-ranging improvements include improved detection through food-safety laboratories, along with other measures to prevent and respond to outbreaks.
Specific measures relating to laboratories include implementing a national public health surveillance system to improve rapid identification and tracking of potential foodborne illness outbreaks; strengthening existing laboratory networks and making steps towards a national network among relevant laboratories of food safety partners; developing improved detection methods for Listeria monocytogenes and other microbial hazards in food to reduce testing time and enable more rapid response during food safety investigations; analyzing data and identifying trends in reported illnesses to develop and monitor early warning indicators; and strengthening the diagnostic tools used in laboratories to support our ability to trace the origins of food hazards such as Listeria monocytogenes.
Measures to lower future food safety risks include hiring and training an additional 70 ready-to-eat meat inspectors; using an independent auditor to conduct a review of what is needed to ensure the Compliance Verification System (CVS) is as effective in overseeing the food safety controls applied in meat processing; continuing to support the development, implementation and maintenance of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems in federally registered meat and poultry establishments; and reviewing policies, programs, manuals, regulations and directives to ensure they reflect current food safety practices and any changes that have been required of industry.
Response to outbreaks will be improved by providing 24/7 availability of health risk assessment teams, strengthening of relevant protocols, and sharing of best practices for management of food recall situations between various levels of government and industry, among other measures.