Canada is among the top 10 countries in the world when it comes to food safety requirements. The country has strong institutional frameworks in place, including strong legislation, food-safety programs, and other creative safety measures. Canadian food safety policies accurately depict the farm-to-fork process. However, there is room for improvement in the present safety regime. Furthermore, fresh threats threaten to destroy the progress established thus far. In Canada, there have been numerous reports of health issues as a result of inadequate food safety. The main difference is that in Canada, food safety has vastly improved over the last few decades. How well the relevant authorities mitigate the existing risk factors will determine the country’s capacity to sustain high food standards.
When it comes to moving fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy products from the producer to the consumer, there are a number of risk considerations to consider. The main premise is that advances in technology and stringent legislation would remove contamination and assure the best possible food standards. However, elements like technology and transportation networks can impair safety standards in a variety of ways. For example, there has been numerous food recalls in Canada and other affluent countries such as Europe and the United States during the last decade (Patterson and Hiebert 1). The fundamental goal of policymakers is to ensure that food standards are enhanced while taking into account all of the existing flaws.
On the other hand, how well other stakeholders (such as industry actors, consumers, and researchers) collaborate and support the Canadian government’s efforts will determine whether or not standards are improved. Standardization is also influenced by a variety of social, economic, and political issues. When the government ensures food safety, for example, the country’s economic and social well-being improves. The purpose of this study is to look at how the Canadian government can strengthen food safety standards. The study focuses on the risk areas that provide the government opportunities for improvement. In addition, the study discusses how the government may work with other food industry players to strengthen existing standards.
The Current Situation
Food safety is only assured when no biological, chemical or physical consequences are experienced by the individual who consumes it. Even good safety regulations can only reduce dangers in certain scenarios, not eliminate them entirely. Because it is impossible for them to establish that food does not offer any health or physical hazard, consumers’ perceptions of food safety are primarily assumptions. Even food that looks to be safe and tastes nice can pose a health danger. As a result, food safety is a concern that necessitates a level of vigilance that regular folks rarely possess. Viruses, pathogens, bacteria, and other biological dangers found in food that is intended for consumption are now the factors that offer the greatest risk to consumers. In Canada, determining whether the food contains hazardous organisms such as Salmonella, Listeria, or Campylobacter is challenging for any food consumer. Chemicals are increasingly being used in modern food manufacturing, raising concerns that dangerous substances may end up on the consumer’s plate. Agrochemicals, pesticides, and fertilizers used in modern food production are hazardous to citizens’ health.
The Canadian government has put in place rules to ensure that rigorous safety standards are met. The Food and Consumer Safety Action Plan of 2007 and a 2009 public health study on the Listeriosis Outbreak of 2008 were two factors that influenced the passage of safety regulations in Canada. These preambles aimed to “modernize and simplify federal legislation and regulations that have a substantial impact on food safety,” according to the preambles (Seed 457). The Safe Food for Canadians Act is the outcome of events that occurred over the last ten years. Previously, food safety was governed by a variety of laws that addressed individual goods such as fish, meat, agricultural products, consumer packaging, and pharmaceuticals.
All of these pieces of regulation give a jumbled picture of Canadian food safety. In order to harmonize the safety concept, the Safe Food for Canadians Act integrates current legislation into one act. This rule is primarily implemented in Canada by the Food Inspection Agency, whose primary goal is to ensure that all food sold to Canadian citizens is safe to eat. The Safe Food for Canada Act is designed to achieve three simple objectives. To begin with, the Act aims to improve the consumer protection supervision mission. Second, the law aims for more simplified and powerful legislative powers. Finally, the Act intends to ensure that Canada’s food may find a place in the international market (Patterson and Hiebert 1).
Improving Standards Associated with Food Handling
Although the majority of the risks connected with food stem from errors made throughout the handling process, these flaws can be addressed at any point in the process. It would be simple to maintain high safety standards if food could reach kitchens without being contaminated. Chemical contamination of crop and animal products can readily occur throughout the manufacturing process. However, because primary production takes place in rural places and often outside the country, the government has the least access to this stage of production. The processing and manufacturing stage of food handling is very crucial. Contamination concerns exist at this level, primarily due to inadequate hygiene and a lack of knowledge of safety regulations. Nonetheless, because it is centralized and has access to high levels of technology, this is the easiest stage to control contamination. The last stage of food handling is wholesaling and retailing, which is the last step before the commodities are delivered to the customers. Because the food is usually already packaged correctly, there are minimal opportunities for contamination at this step.
Food handling safety hazards are best addressed when all parties involved work together. As a result, “governments, food industry (including producers, processors, retailers, and foodservice institutions), and consumers” are all responsible for handling food safety concerns in Canada (Munro et al.1). As the primary overseer of safety issues, the government should encourage all parties concerned to put forth their best efforts in analyzing, managing, and reporting safety threats. It’s worth noting that Canadian legislation has allowed for this collaboration.
In Canada, for example, the Functional Foods and Natural Health Products Database (FFNHPD) is the most widely used classification system for food safety. However, while this strategy has largely been successful in supplying budgetary data to the government, it has failed to provide much-needed safety data. When it comes to increasing food safety standards in the country, the government can make use of this framework. “Consumer profile and preferences, market size and performance, sourcing concerns, labor issues, foreign direct investment, distribution channels, regulatory issues affecting the industry, and research and development (R&D)” are some of the statistics supplied by the FFNHPD (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada 1). All of this information can help the authorities eliminate potential sources of food contamination.
Focus on Stakeholders
Getting all stakeholders involved in attempts to improve food safety standards is the simplest way to get results. The government and all of its institutions are the most visible stakeholders. Although the Canadian government has one of the greatest food safety regimes in the world, these models can still be improved. One way to effect change is to concentrate on the current food industry. Crops can currently be harvested in Asia or the Netherlands today and arrive in Canadian markets the next day. The rapid mobility of these items necessitates a stringent pre-market approval regime. Pre-approval systems now in use are generally generic and serve only as supplements to existing legal frameworks. For example, the process for certifying new products and technology is opaque, and it lacks the ability to provide consumers with the certainty they demand in today’s world. A new market entrant may only need to get pre-market approval once, which opens the door to the dissemination of false information (MacRae 425). Making institutions accountable by mandating data breakdowns of their contribution to food safety is another avenue for development.
The food sector is the driving force behind the standardization of safety standards. The majority of food safety agencies are concerned about the operations of manufacturers on a daily basis. Prior study has shown, however, that in the food industry, market forces frequently take precedence over safety concerns. As a result, the food sector can only be concerned about safety if it is linked to market forces. As we’ve seen in the past, food producers can do everything they can to avoid complications that result in market share loss and brand degradation (Marucheck 710). The government can utilize this strategy to encourage and incentivize processors and manufacturers to be safe. Small and medium firms, on the other hand, do not benefit from this strategy because their brand image is often insignificant. Nonetheless, it has been discovered that managing food safety within large companies is more effective than operating it further down the line.
When food reaches households and small eateries, it is frequently contaminated. The establishment of standard systems is one of the strategies that the government employs in its efforts to assure food safety among industries. The Canada General Accepted Principles (GAP) is an example of such a norm, which assures that food from other countries meets Canadian standards. Although these guidelines have proven to be effective in assuring the safety of food produced by large corporations, they have failed to address the special demands of small and medium businesses. Small businesses have experienced problems marketing their products outside of the country as well as importing goods into the country. The Canadian GAP should be reviewed, and the concerns of small and medium businesses should be addressed. For example, the vast majority of industry standards are private, and they are designed to benefit large food producers rather than small producers.
In their efforts to promote food safety, policymakers frequently overlook the potential of food consumers. Consumers, for example, can generate additional risks by failing to exercise excellent food safety in food storage, handling, preparation, and cooking behaviors that would limit risks, even if “governments and industry fulfill their food safety functions properly” (Park et al. 59). The consumer should be included in the Canadian government’s efforts to improve food safety. The government can ensure that food consumers do not overlook their role in food safety by raising awareness. It would be impossible for the Canadian government, for example, to enact regulations governing how food is handled in private residences. However, raising awareness minimizes the danger of end-users food safety being compromised. Improving the consumers’ risk awareness is one way to achieve this goal.
Government Instituted Solutions towards Food Safety
The Canadian government can improve food safety through both formal and informal avenues. Formally, the government can improve food safety by enacting laws and policies such as the Safe Food for Canadians Act. Although all of these formal channels have been established, their success is determined by the scope of their influence. Informal ways of promoting food safety, on the other hand, are targeted at reaching those who are outside the scope of government policy. Households, service companies, and other small and medium enterprises are among the elements that are difficult to reach through formal food safety techniques. This section discusses the unconventional approaches that the Canadian government can use when it comes to food safety.
One way to improve food safety is to ensure that free guidance is available to small and informal eating establishments. According to current statistics, the majority of occurrences of unsafe food occur among small food operators, such as mobile eateries and other food subsector participants (Park et al. 58). To increase safety standards, government agencies should shift their focus away from enforcement and toward education. Foodservice suppliers are more likely to comply with safety requirements if they are made aware of them. For example, government inspectors find it difficult to visit all eating businesses on a regular basis. As a result, offering the required support and timely food safety advice to the owners of these facilities would make it easier for them to take the initiative. Government authorities, for example, can advise small food handlers on how to reduce safety risks and implement swift responses to disease outbreaks. The government is currently attempting to assure cooperation, although the majority of this guidance is given in an impersonal and indirect manner. The government, for example, has web pages dedicated to informing food workers about safety. Initiating direct contact with small-scale handlers is the most effective way to improve safety.
Consumers’ food safety can also be enhanced by advocating safe food practices. Currently, “about 4 million occurrences of food-related diseases occur in Canada each year, many of which could be avoided if food handling standards such as clean, separate, cook, and chill were followed” (Seed 459). Further investigation reveals that food consumers are the most likely source of food contamination. The government has done a lot to make sure that consumers have access to vital information, but it cannot guarantee that they will use it. As a result, encouraging consumers to put what they’ve learned about food safety into practice is one way to improve food safety. The Canadian government can improve existing consumer education initiatives to make them more appealing to their intended audiences. Information websites, informative food labeling, and information given through agency inspectors are some of the current efforts. Public service announcements and collaboration with food networks and other forms of social engagement could be used in the future.
The government should also coordinate private food safety regulations to ensure that the public is the intended recipient. Some of the current regulations appear to favor big businesses and other capitalist organizations over public safety. Furthermore, a study into the scope of public health can ensure that empirical evidence on the efficacy of current standards is available. It is the government’s responsibility to provide clarification on which procedures are or are not effective in maintaining food safety.
When it comes to enhancing food safety, the Canadian government should make the most of technology. In recent years, legislation has been implemented to preserve rigorous food safety requirements. The key to enhancing food safety is for all stakeholders to work together and coordinate their efforts. The government should also take advantage of changing circumstances to ensure that food is produced, transported, manufactured, and delivered in a safe manner. In addition, the discussion over how Canada may use existing institutions to ensure food safety should be addressed.