Canada plans tough food safety laws

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Safety

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has outlined radical plans
to improve the safety of imported and exported foods - after
admitting the country had fallen behind when it came to regulation.

He said this week that the country was a decade behind others when it came to product recall legislation. The Premier said there was a need to improve legislation because of growing concern over safety. New powers will include giving the government the ability to issue mandatory product recalls. He said: "There is a growing concern about the safety of some of the products on the market… even worse are some incidence involving food and drug…. the California spinach that was tainted with E.coli. "The truth is product safety regulation in Canada is not as rigorous as it should be. In the past decade and a half we have fallen behind other industrialized countries, including some of our trading partners. "We need to set and enforce state-of-the-art safety standards for domestic and imported goods." ​ Food safety is a global issue, and Mr Harper cited an E.coli outbreak in the US as one of the problems to have faced the industry. In 2006 the US was in the grip of an E.coli outbreak which lead to 205 confirmed illnesses and three deaths. The source of the outbreak was traced back to contaminated spinach in California. Recalls have been made on numerous occasions across the world. Just last month recalls were issued after pieces of metal were feared to have fallen into sweet treats in the UK and E. coli was suspected in pizza and beef patties in the US. ​In such a climate Canada has to get tough on safety issues and Mr Harper hopes the Food and Consumer Safety Action Plan will keep Canadians safer by legislating tougher federal government regulation of food, health, and consumer products. The Canadian leader noted there has been a sharp rise in the number of product recalls involving unsafe toys, food and drugs. He said: "Canadians rightly expect their federal government to police the safety of the products they bring into their homes." ​ Work on the legislation will begin in the New Year and will include a host of new measures, including: · Mandatory product recalls when companies fail to act on legitimate safety concerns · Making importers responsible for the safety of goods they bring into Canada. · Increasing maximum fines under the Food and Drug Act from $5,000 up to current international standards. The EU can fine up to $1m. · Improve safety information for consumers It is also hoped the legislation will lead to more inspections and stricter licensing of goods. Prime Minister Harper added: "This plan will benefit all Canadians: it will improve our safety and health, reward responsible industry players, and enhance Canada's reputation abroad as a country whose product safety standards are second to none."

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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