Farm groups are participating in an industry-government food safety committee because they expect results, says Dennis Laycraft, executive vice-president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.
“A common thread to the committee is our efforts on food safety and pursuing a solution-based approach between the food industry and government,” said Laycraft. “What we have is a partnership approach.”
The Food Safety Review Committee was set up earlier this year and has members from farm groups, food companies and retailers, and the federal departments of Agriculture and Health, as well as the Public Health Agency and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. A representative from the food-service sector will join this month.
“We’re all busy people and we’re committed to get the job done,” said Laycraft, the committee’s industry co-chair. “We have a work plan that’s taking shape. We’re fostering an enhanced level of dialogue among industry and government. We want to identify research priorities, and improve federal and provincial food inspection.”
First-rate food safety standards are vital to the food industry if it wants to keep selling product to the United States, Japan and Europe, he said.
“We’re bringing in U.S. experts to keep us up to date on the changes coming there.”
The committee is also watching to see how federal departments act on the 57 recommendations of the Weatherill report, produced after a review of the deadly
outbreak of listeria in ready-to- eat meats that killed 22 people and sickened scores more in 2008.
But there’s a lot more to food safety than inspection, said Laycraft.
“We can’t inspect our way to food safety. Inspection just confirms whether the food system is working well.”
The committee wants faster Health Canada approval for new food-testing or production technologies that can reduce risk, and boost export prospects, said Laycraft, adding he joined the committee because there appeared to be a serious commitment to taking action from industry and government.
The committee is focused on six themes: Developing food safety policies and standards that reflect current food safety knowledge and best practices; joint government-industry action on food safety; strengthening consumer food safety education; improving food safety reporting; analyzing food safety data; and setting principles for stronger food safety systems and governance.
“We’reallbusypeople andwe’recommitted togetthejobdone.”
– Dennis Laycraft, Executive Vice-President Of The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association