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Friday, 21 November 2014

If Canada's Food Safety System Ranked World's Best . . .

With the claim made in the above press release that Canada's food safety system ranked world's best, the following questions immediately come to mind:
  • Why are so many food recalls still reported in Canada?
  • Does Canada have fewer reported recalls than the other countries to which it was compared (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States of America)?
  • What exactly is the measure of a "world's best food safety system” in lieu of the goal of food safety management system?
  • Is how well food safety failures are assessed, managed and communicated an acceptable and sufficient indicator of success?
The boasting about Canada’s food safety system appears to be based on the examination of the wrong criteria. Even if interviewed Canadian consumers expressed confidence in the strength of Canada's food system (should this be the claim by Minister of Health Rona Ambrose), such expressions of confidence can be misleading. Interviewed consumers may not have considered the full scope of health problems that are linked to food while responding to the questions about how much confidence they have in the Canadian food safety system. They may not even be aware of how many food-related problems affect them directly. For example, how many stomach upsets they have suffered in a given period, whether they have one of many chronic conditions caused by food such as obesity, diabetes, heart problems, etc.
The most appropriate measure of a successful food safety assurance system is the actual absence of food-related health problems. Any legitimate claim about food safety success must include real data to support at least a clear, consistent and continuing reduction in food-related health problems. Anything else constitutes an attempt to deceive.
Posted By Felix Amiri
Felix Amiri is the current Food Sector Chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection

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