November 20, 2012, Ottawa: Canadian families will have a stronger food safety system with the anticipated passage of the Safe Food for Canadians Act, S-11, by Parliament, announced Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.
“Canadian families will be better protected by the passage of the Safe Food for Canadians Act,” said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. “The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will have stronger modernized tools to better protect Canadians and enhance industry compliance.”
Tabled in the Senate last June, the Safe Food for Canadians Act would 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;
- Giving inspectors an enhanced ability to compel food producers to provide information in a timely manner and standardized format;
- Giving the CFIA the authority to require traceability systems for food producers and processors by way of regulation.
- Providing better control over imports and exports; and
- Strengthening food traceability throughout the value chain.
Together, these measures will help find products faster in recall situations so they can be removed from the shelves quicker and in a more comprehensive way.
The new legislation, if passed, would 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 proposed legislation, penalties could be as high as $5,000,000, 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.
The proposed legislation 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 Harper Government’s commitment to address recommendations from the Weatherill Report and the commitments made in the 2010 Speech from the Throne.
For more information on the Safe Food for Canadians Act, contact the CFIA at 1-800-442-2342.