OTTAWA, ONTARIO –  A tragic foodborne illness outbreak from 12 years ago became the driving force behind the Canadian Food Safety Information Network (CFSIN), a new digital hub built to enable public health and food safety experts to work together to better anticipate, detect and respond to food safety issues and foodborne illness incidents.

Led by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the CFSIN food safety platform provides federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) organizations with laboratory test data and new digital tools, such as environmental scanning, automated food safety reports and shared software for analysis. Network functions include:

  • Laboratory mapping – Online geographical mapping of partner laboratories to identify their capacity and capabilities;
  • Scanning and intelligence – Tools to identify and analyze local or global food safety issues, track new scientific findings, and perform innovative capture of food safety concerns found on social media, or other open sources;
  • Collaboration – A secure online environment for network partners to collaborate and communicate through news postings, shared scientific research, data, and working groups;
  • Food safety event management – Tools to manage food-borne illness outbreaks across provinces and jurisdictions;
  • Early warning – Predictive analytics of food safety data from all partners to better predict food safety issues before they happen; and
  • Alerting – Automated or manually triggered food safety alerts and warnings distributed to partners.

CFSIN is led by the CFIA and delivered in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada and provincial and territorial partners. Fifteen FPT partner organizations are participating in the network, with representation from 10 provinces and territories and three federal departments.

“We are working to protect Canadians from foodborne illnesses,” said Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health. “Through CFSIN, food safety partners across Canada are working together to safeguard Canada's food supply through greater data sharing and analysis. With our investments in innovation, CFSIN will improve our ability to respond to food safety issues.”

The vision of CFSIN was formed following the 2008 outbreak of Listeriosis that killed 22 Canadians. The outbreak was linked to contaminated meat products processed at a Maple Leaf Foods processing plant. Following the foodborne outbreak, a government-appointed independent investigator recommended the establishment of an integrated FPT network to better respond to future food safety emergencies.

“Food safety is a top priority for the Ontario government,” said Ernie Hardeman, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “The timely sharing of data and information on foodborne illnesses is critical in preventing outbreaks in our province and across the country. We look forward to enhanced collaboration with our federal, provincial and territorial partners through this leading-edge information network to support food safety as part of our broader system to help protect the health of the public.”