The committee has been struck, but any revamp of food safety regulations is still a ways off.
“We’re in early days,” said Anna Romano, executive director of the Food Safety Review Committee at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
The group of government, agriculture and food industry officials has met once and agreed on six themes they will pursue at future meetings.
They include: 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.
Both the food industry and farm leadership have been asking for such a committee, a call which intensified with the 2008 deadly listeria outbreak in Maple Leaf deli meats.
A committee will set up a working group to draft a plan for implementing the 57 recommendations made by Sheila Weatherill following her investigation into the outbreak.
So far, the committee hasn’t been asked to look into whatever became of the Harper government’s food safety action plan, which was discussed at the federal- provincial agriculture ministers’ meetings in 2008 and 2009, but has yet to be made public. There have been repeated suggestions that Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz will introduce sweeping amendments to federal food safety regulations.
Romano co-chairs the committee with Dennis Laycraft, executive vice-president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.