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Canada: Government to improve food safety

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced that the government will invest $75 mln in Canada's food safety system and act on all 57 recommendations made by Independent Investigator Sheila Weatherill.

"We are making significant investments to hire more inspectors; update technologies and protocols; and, improve communication so that Canadians have the information they need to protect their families," said Minister Ritz.

"Our government continues to be committed to protecting and improving the health and safety of Canadians," said Minister Aglukkaq. "Nothing can be more fundamental to the health and safety of our families as the safety of the foods we serve them, which is why we continue to take the steps necessary to improve Canada's food safety system and ensure Canadians have the information they need to protect themselves from foodborne illnesses."

The new investments will improve the government's ability to prevent, detect and respond to future foodborne illness outbreaks. Among other improvements, the government will:
- hire 166 new food safety staff with 70 focusing on ready-to-eat-meat facilities
- provide 24/7 availability of health risk assessment teams to improve support to food safety investigations
- improve coordination among federal and provincial departments and agencies
- improve communications to vulnerable populations before and during a foodborne illness outbreak
- improve tracking of potential foodborne illness outbreaks through a national surveillance system
- improve detection methods for Listeria monocytogenes and other hazards in food to reduce testing time and enable more rapid response during food safety investigations, as well as expanding the Government's ability to do additional Listeria testing
- initiate a third-party audit to make sure Canada's food inspection system has the right resources dedicated to the right priorities.

This investment builds on the government's 2008 commitment of $113 mln for food safety.

Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Natalie Berkhout

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