Government putting finishing touches on new food-safety act

CFIA wants feedback on inspection changes

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is seeking feedback on its plans to streamline food-safety inspection to put more emphasis on risk management.

The agency has posted background information and directions on its website on how individuals, groups and associations can comment on the plans, first announced in the March 2011 budget. Comments have to be in by the end of July. Any changes will have to be approved by the federal cabinet, which means none are likely until next year.

Meanwhile, the government is putting the finishing touches to bills to create a new food law and amend the Food and Drugs Act to clarify the role of CFIA in safety and other food issues. This will include consolidating eight commodity inspection regimes into one to achieve “more consistent oversight and management of risk” and no longer policing labelling and efficacy issues in regard to seed and fertilizer.

Proposed changes to the agency has prompted the union representing inspectors to charge that food-safety standards are being lowered, an accusation the government strenuously denies. The agency says inspection modernization will move away from complete reliance on visual checks of foods to more “verification of industry preventive control systems.”

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