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Canadian food inspection changes Ďonly positiveí, says CPMAMonday, June 11, 2012 > 11:39:09
The Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) says the proposed changes to food inspection systems could help strengthen consumer confidence and bring greater certainty to the industry.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has proposed putting eight different food inspection programs under one system, requesting responses from the public by Jul. 31.
CPMA vice president for policy and issue management Jane Proctor, told www.freshfruitportal.com the new system would hopefully alleviate doubts over fresh produce consumption following high profile foodborne disease cases in recent years.
“It’s only natural that consumers would be questioning after the E.coli outbreak in Germany last year and what happened with canteloupes in the U.S., but I think modernizing the regimes around food safety is only going to make consumers feel better,” she said.
“That’s going to benefit the entire industry, whether it’s with domestic producers or producers in other countries exporting to Canada.”
She says the adage ‘you’re only as strong as your weakest link’ is one that keeps produce professionals awake at night, but a simplified and stronger food inspection system would help cut out the potential for damages.
“There’s a lot of concern in the industry that if you don’t have a very good regime in place and you’re not careful about the licensing, you will have these bad actors; people that don’t have these very strenuous regimes in place and they will impact the industry.
“I’m not saying that in the past instances there weren’t food safety schemes in place, but I think all of this modernization supports the confidence that one bad actor in our industry won’t decimate an entire category for example, and that’s really important.”
When asked whether a broader scheme could open up room for error with produce-specific food inspection issues, Proctor was dismissive.
“I don’t think it’s going to be the case that because the regulations are broader that something will be missed; because there is simplification and the government is very serious about this there shouldn’t be room for gaps.”
Proctor has not yet seen the bill, but says she has been given assurance that the government will conduct ’strenuous’ negotiations about its implementation and whether it needs tweaking once it is made public.
“Of course the act will be published but the regulations about how to implement the act will be all the real heavy lifting.
“One of the pieces that we expect is to see that there will be the ability to certify through exports; if that occurs, and I haven’t seen the bill, it could be a voluntary thing.
“There is nothing we anticipate that would have a negative impact. We only see this, from what we’ve seen so far, as being positive, as long as the regulations are done properly and as long as they work with industry to ensure we don’t in anyway impede industry in a negative way.”
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