Greater Cooperation Recommended Among Agencies Responsible for Food Safety in Canada

Farmscape for April 15, 2011   (Episode 3559)

A food safety specialist with University of Manitoba is calling for greater cooperation and collaboration among the agencies responsible for food safety in Canada to prevent foodborne illness.

Last month researchers with the University of Manitoba's Department of Food Science met with representatives of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Environment Canada, Public Works, Citizenship and Human Resources to discuss "Inter-agency Collaboration and Food Safety."

Dr. Rick Holley, a food safety and food microbiology professor with the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, observes it's often difficult for the many agencies responsible for food safety in Canada to communicate.

Clip-Dr. Rick Holley-University of Manitoba:
We have the Public Health Agency of Canada, then we have the Canadian Food Inspection Agency at the federal level.

Then we have provincial government departments of agriculture and provincial departments of health both having a responsibility and we have municipal governments.

Each and every one of those agencies cannot, by constitutional law, delegate responsibility to the other agencies that have similar responsibilities in different geographic jurisdictions and this then becomes very complex.

Add to that the Freedom of Information Act and its restrictions on exchange of information among agencies about the public and you then see the roadblocks that exist currently in terms of inter-agency cooperation, exchange of information and use of resources.

Dr. Holley recommends improving the collection and sharing of foodborne illness surveillance data.

He says we still don't know how many cases of foodborne illness are caused by specific pathogens or which foods cause foodborne illness more frequently and it's time we did.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

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