Maple Leaf provides grant for food safety program

by Bryan Salvage
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OTTAWA – The Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) has released EAT SAFE! (http://foodsafety.cpha.ca/), which is a new online resource to help consumers minimize their personal risk from foodborne illness. Production of this resource, which is targeted at higher-risk groups, their caregivers and the broader Canadian population, was made possible through an unrestricted educational grant from Maple Leaf Foods Inc.

“Most bacteria, viruses and parasites that induce foodborne illness present a greater risk to seniors, pregnant women, people living with HIV, and people undergoing cancer treatment,” said Dr. Lynn McIntyre, CPHA Board member. “Everyone should be aware of their personal level of risk for foodborne illness and follow some simple steps to safeguard their health, whenever they buy, cook, or store food.”

The EAT SAFE! site, which has something for all Canadians, is designed especially for four vulnerable populations: seniors, people living with HIV/AIDS, people undergoing cancer treatment and pregnant women. These populations are more susceptible to foodborne illness which in some cases can be severe or even deadly.

In Canada, which its government said has one of the world’s best food-safety systems, 11 to 13 million people contract foodborne illness each year. Food safety dominated news headlines during the Listeriosis outbreak in 2008 when Listeria was found in products produced by Maple Leaf Foods and claimed the lives of 23 Canadians, many from higher-risk groups.

Maple Leaf Foods responded by making significant improvements in all areas of food safety and committing to become a leader in food safety, including providing consumer education and outreach.

“Vulnerable populations and their caregivers have a particular need for relevant information on food safety that is easily accessible,” said Dr. Randall Huffman, Maple Leaf Foods chief food safety officer,. “Our partnership with CPHA and the development of the EAT SAFE! Web site provided an excellent opportunity to support our education and outreach initiative and help deliver important information to higher-risk Canadians on proper food safety practices, including which foods they should avoid.”

CPHA is also reaching out extensively to the public health and home care professionals who often act as first-line sources of health information for Canadians.

The Web site includes food safety fact sheets available as downloadable PDFs in English, French, and 11 other languages.
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