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New Food Safety Act introduced

The Manitoba government is expanding its inspection regime to include inspecting facilities of food processors and distributors, including food warehouses.

The new Food Safety Act, introduced last week, would give agriculture department inspectors new powers to enter these facilities and, if necessary, immediately seize and dispose of food or any else posing a food safety risk.

Current food safety legislation deals with on-farm food safety, safe livestock and livestock products, and the dairy industry and with public health inspections of restaurants and stores.

Under the new law, the health department’s public health inspectors would continue to inspect restaurants and retailers.

Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives (MAFRI) Minister Rosann Wowchuk said this will strengthen Manitoba’s food safety system by giving the province the necessary authority to work co-operatively with food industry partners and the federal government.

Other changes under the proposed Food Safety Act would include establishing a public registry of licenced food premises and appointing more public health inspectors. Staff working on food premises who report problems would also gain new protection against employer retaliation.

The new act also sets out fines of up to $50,000 and or six months in jail for individuals and up to $500,000 for corporations that fail to comply with safe food regulations.

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