WASHINGTON — In response to the 2008 Listeriosis outbreak in Canada, the Canadian Parliament’s Food Safety Subcommittee has identified opportunities for improvement, which are published in a new report, "Beyond the Listeriosis Crisis: Strengthening the Food Safety System." The report points recommends 14 changes, including the implementation of food-safety programs, such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, traceability, developing a common approach to food-safety standards with the U.S., enhancing the foodborne illness surveillance system, improving inter-agency protocols and increasing inspection resources.

The report was compiled after a series of public hearings between April and June 2009 on a number of issues related to food safety and the role that industry and the government should play to ensure the safety of the food supply. The hearings included testimony from various members of the Canadian government, producers, processors and other members of Canada’s food supply chain, as well as testimony from James H. Hodges, executive vice-president of the American Meat Institute.

Mr. Hodges told committee members that ultimately, the responsibility for producing safe food rests with the manufacturer. "The government, whether it be in the U.S. or Canada, does not manufacture food," he said. "They have a very important role in the oversight of setting appropriate standards to protect the public health and they have to have vigorous oversight to ensure that those standards are met."

The meat and poultry industry has been a strong advocate of a preventative approach and in fact petitioned the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to mandate HACCP plans in meat and poultry plants, Mr. Hodges pointed out. That requirement took effect a decade ago and has helped enhance meat and poultry safety.

Citing A.M.I. at several points, the report notes that if the 14 changes are fully implemented, the Subcommittee "believes these recommendations will improve the Canadian food safety system and mitigate future tragedies."

For a full copy of the report, click: www.meatami.com/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/50978