Jurisdiction Slowing Food Safety Improvements

CANADA - A University of Manitoba food safety and food microbiology professor suggests government agencies need to be able to work together more closely in the effort to improve Canada's food safety systems, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 25 August 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

The report of the independent investigator into a 2008 listeriosis outbreak that claimed 22 lives was released just over one month ago.

The report identifies weaknesses in the system and makes 57 recommendations for improvement.

Dr. Rick Holley, with the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, says it appears that, although there was a food borne illness outbreak response protocol in place, several agencies were unaware of the document.

Dr. Rick Holley-University of Manitoba

While that's important I think, more importantly, we've got to get the various agencies involved in monitoring and regulating food safety in Canada working better together on a constant basis.

I think there's recognition in-house, within government agencies, that things need to be done better and this is not a new revelation.

It's just politically difficult for these agencies to share confidential information across organizational boundaries for whatever reasons and we need to solve this issue in Canada and we need to do it as soon as possible.

The exact solution may come from the establishment of employee category with dual membership within several organizations.

But until such time as we have better working relationships among the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the provincial governments working toward a common goal and that is the reduction of food borne illnesses in Canada, we're not really going to see much in the way of an improvement.

Dr. Holley warns the barn door is still open.

He says we're just as much at risk of a food borne illness outbreak today as we were one year ago.

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