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Pundit’s Mailbag —
Canada Is On The Ball
When It Comes To
Food Safety

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, January 11, 2008

In running our piece, Could Canadian Hort Council’s Food Safety Training Kit Be Applied To US Growers? we gave a hat tip to Albert F. Chambers, President of Monachus Consulting, as he passed along word that the Canadian Horticultural Council is now distributing a resource kit that one could learn about here.

Albert writes us back now, suggesting that there are additional resources in Canada that deserve a wider hearing:

To add to your list of collaborative initiatives in the Canadian food industry, you might want to check out the joint initiative undertaken by the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (the independents and small chains) and the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors (large chains and distributors to retail and food service).

CFIG and CCGD have developed two HACCP-based programs for their members. The first is a program for distributors and the second is one for retail outlets. These programs are built on the same HACCP-based approach (generic model & best practices) as the CHC programs and as the one that CPMA has developed for repackers and wholesalers.

Not only has the agriculture ministry assisted with the financing, but the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has been involved as well, with its HACCP experts and commodity experts providing input. As you may realize, the CHC programs, along with programs for 99 percent of primary production from bison to spices, are also being submitted to a CFIA-led technical and administrative review process — National On-Farm Food Safety Recognition Program. A recognition program for “post-farm” industry led programs is under discussion at this time.

But back to retail. CFIG has some training sessions scheduled for its members in the new year. Over at CCGD, they also hold seminars.

We should also note the collaboration along the fresh produce supply chain and in particular the joint CHC/CPMA/CCGD/CFIG project to compare Canadian, US and international food safety programs at the grower/packer and repacker/wholesaler levels. That initiative is expected to result in commercial requirements for imported products to be produced and handled under comparable programs to the CHC and CPMA programs.

In summary, the essence of the Canadian approach is HACCP or HACCP-based and involves a combination of industry-led programs for all segments of the supply chain from input suppliers (see Packaging Association of Canada — www.pac.ca/services/haccphome.html), through primary production (see on-farmfoodsafety.ca), through processing (mostly government inspected), through transportation (see Canadian Trucking Association — www.cantruck.com/policies/safety/foodsafety.php) to final marketers at retail and food service and government recognition of both the technical soundness and administrative effectiveness (conformity assessment) of these programs.

Obviously, the Canadian approach is a work in progress. Not every segment of the chain is yet involved. Indeed, the Canadian Vintners Association has only this year started its work. And it is not exclusively focused on the commercial channels as the food banks and even the waste and waste water association are developing and implementing HACCP-based initiatives.

Hope this adds to your efforts to bring collaboration and rigour forward as points for discussion and demonstrates that while the BRC and other retailer-led initiatives may be one route, the Canadian approach based on HACCP and built on a foundation of collaboration along the supply chain and with governments (federal & provincial) is another.

— Albert F. Chambers
President
Monachus Consulting
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada

We appreciate Albert’s informative letter. He points out that different places, different times and different players may pursue food safety in different ways. Yet, surely, we can all wind up at the same place.

Albert is a busy guy. In addition to a running consulting firm concentrated on food safety, for the last several years Albert has been chairing the Canadian stakeholders group on the new ISO 22000 series of standards.

We appreciate him making a little time to keep the industry abreast of happenings in Canada.

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