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Canada strengthening its ability to anticipate, detect and respond to food safety risks

April 13, 2015 - Burnaby, BC - Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Today, on behalf of the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, Cathy McLeod, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, highlighted improvements at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) Burnaby Laboratory which will help ensure food safety. The Burnaby Lab will be included as part of the Food Safety Information Network (FSIN) that is improving Canada's ability to effectively anticipate and detect routine foodborne threats.

The CFIA's Burnaby Laboratory specializes in testing for allergens— the number one cause of food recalls in Canada. The laboratory also performs important microbiology testing for a full range of food pathogens, with specialized expertise in those associated with seafood, and food virology. It is one of many world-class Canadian laboratories to be connected by the FSIN.

As announced last week, the Government of Canada is investing $30.7M over five years to establish the FSIN. This new network will help rapidly identify, mobilize and coordinate laboratory surge capacity and capabilities during complex food safety incidents and emergencies; allow near-real time sharing, organization and analysis of food safety information across the country to inform more preventive and timely risk management decisions; and improve Canada's ability to effectively anticipate and detect routine foodborne threats.

The FSIN is a collaborative initiative developed by the federal government with the provinces and territories. Federal partners include the CFIA, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada. The FSIN will be implemented incrementally over five years, linking federal and provincial food safety establishments and accredited laboratories across the country.

Canadian consumers will benefit from the new Network through:

  • Faster, more proactive food safety interventions;
  • More preventive food safety programs and inspections to better protect consumers;
  • Strengthened laboratory emergency response during food safety incidents and emergencies (which should speed-up recalls, for example); and
  • Improved guidance on reducing food safety risks.

Quick Facts

  • The FSIN will standardize food safety testing and leverage existing laboratory capacity.
  • The FSIN will enhance Canada's ability to provide evidence of the integrity of Canada's food supply to trading partners.
  • A 2014 Conference Board of Canada report ranking the food safety systems of 17 countries placed Canada at number one in the world along with Ireland.
  • Budget 2014 committed $390 million to strengthen Canada's safe food system.
  • It's estimated that as many as 1.2 million Canadians may be affected by life-threatening food allergies.
  • Peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, soy, seafood, wheat, eggs, milk, mustard and sulphites are the food allergens most commonly associated with severe allergic reactions in Canada and are otherwise known as the priority allergens.

Quotes

"Our Government is committed to ensuring that Canadian families have confidence in the food they buy and eat. Everyone has a role to play in food safety. We are committed to working with all partners to ensure Canadians have access to healthy and safe food. Today's announcement of the Food Safety Information Network means better protection for the health and safety of Canadian families."

The Honourable Rona Ambrose
Minister of Health

"These investments are working to improve our food safety system. The experts at the Burnaby Laboratory will now be better connected with their colleagues across the country, allowing them to better prevent food safety problems and support faster recalls when needed.

Cathy McLeod,
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health
Member of Parliament for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo

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Contacts

Michael Bolkenius
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Health
613-957-0200

Media Relations
Health Canada
613-957-2983

Media Relations
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
613-773-6600


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