Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: The Harper Government has introduced the Safe Food for Canadians Act. The Safe Food for Canadians Act will strengthen the Government's ability to protect Canadian families from potentially unsafe food.
"Our Government is committed to making food as safe as possible for Canadian families," said agriculture minister Gerry Ritz. "The Safe Food for Canadians Act strengthens and modernizes our food safety system to make sure it continues to provide safe food for Canadians."
The proposed Safe Food for Canadians Act will improve food oversight by:
- Instituting a more consistent inspection regime across all food commodities;
- Implementing tougher penalties for activities that put the health and safety of Canadians at risk;
- Providing better control over imports and exports; and
- Strengthening food traceability.
The Act will also implement tougher fines for activities that put the health and safety of Canadians at risk. Previously, anyone convicted of a serious offence could have been fined up to a maximum of $250,000. Under the new Act, penalties could be as high as $5 million, or in the case of the most serious offences, even higher at the court's discretion. New penalties are also being added for recklessly endangering the lives of Canadians through tampering, deceptive practices or hoaxes.
"As a mother of a young child, I understand how important food safety is to Canadian families," said minister of health Leona Aglukkaq. "This is another example of our government taking action to help protect the health and safety of Canadians."
The Act will consolidate the Fish Inspection Act, the Canada Agricultural Products Act, the Meat Inspection Act, and the food provisions of the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act. The Act will align inspection and enforcement powers across all food commodities, improving the safety of food as well as reducing overlap and helping industry better understand and comply with food safety law. The Act will also provide a new mechanism for regulated parties to seek review of certain decisions made by CFIA officials.
By further aligning Canada's food safety system with those of our key trading partners, the Act will enhance international market opportunities for the Canadian food industry. A new authority in the Act would allow certification of any food commodity for export and increase global confidence in Canadian food. The Act will also strengthen controls over imported food commodities, introduce powers to register or license regulated parties, and prohibit the importation of unsafe foods.
The proposed Act is the result of extensive consultation over a number of years with industry, consumer groups, provincial and territorial governments, and other stakeholders. The Act builds on the Government's commitment to address recommendations from the Weatherill Report and the commitments made in the 2010 Speech from the Throne.
The Ministers of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Health both play a role in Canada's food safety system. The Agriculture Minister, through responsibilities for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, will have the responsibility to administer and enforce the Safe Food for Canadians Act and related regulations, while the Minister of Health retains responsibility for developing policies and standards relating to food safety and nutritional quality.
For more information on the Safe Food for Canadians Act, please visit www.inspection.gc.ca or contact the CFIA at 1-800-442-2342.