In a bid to modernize the food safety system in the country, the Canadian Government has adopted new food safety Act. The new Act named ‘The Safe Food for Canadians Act’ came into force from November 26, 2012. It will bring all food safety concerns under one umbrella. Earlier food safety in Canada was being regulated under different Acts like Canada Agricultural Products Act, the Fish Inspection Act, the Meat Inspection Act, and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act.
The Act is being said to have been inspired by the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) of USA which came into force in January 2011. The focus of the Act is modernization of the whole food safety system to take care of the needs of all the stakeholders. It promises a modernized and better equipped inspection system to enforce industry compliance. "The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will have stronger modernized tools to better protect Canadians and enhance industry compliance" said Gerry Ritz, Agriculture Minister of Canada.
The new law will be better equipped to deal with food commodity tampering, deceptive practices and hoaxes. The penalties and fines have also been increased to curb such practices and safeguard consumers from related threats. For instance previously, anyone convicted of a serious offence could have been fined up to a maximum of $250,000. Under the proposed legislation, penalties could be as high as $5,000,000, or in the case of the most serious offences, even higher at the court's discretion.
The Act also promises better traceability and import regulations to protect the cause of consumers. Tracing a food product involves documenting the production and distribution chain of products. In case of an outbreak or evidence of contaminated food, a product can be traced back to its source or forward through distribution channels; this helps government agencies to take action more quickly in case of an outbreak of food illness.
Features of the new law
The Safe Food for Canadians Act will improve overall food safety for Canadian families by
Protecting us from risks related to food tampering and hoaxes. With the new Act, authorities will be able to move faster and more efficiently to address potential risks to food safety.
Prohibiting the sale of foods that have been recalled, and giving the government the power to require the food industry to have traceability systems to help quickly remove recalled products from the marketplace.
Increasing the control of foods imported into Canada by requiring importers to be licensed and stopping potentially unsafe food from entering our country when risks are detected.
Making the rules for inspection and enforcement consistent across all food commodities: meat, fish and agricultural products. One standard will mean that Canadian families are protected by the same strict requirements.