Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Food & sanitation safety

Next time you do your groceries, I want you to reflect a little on what you are buying. Are you buying a Canadian product, imported product, is it organic, genetically modified? There are many questions that we could be faced with when considering food and the consumption safety thereof.

There are various risks associated with food: (1) chemical risks such as pesticides and antibiotic traces in food, (2) microbiological risks such as parasites found in food or various types of harmful bacteria and (3) nutritional risks associated with our own metabolism such as allergens.

Several organizations such as the World Health Organization ("WHO"), Canadian Food Inspection Agency ("CFIA") and Health Canada ("HC") monitor the food industry, within their own sphere of competence, and adopt measures and guidelines for the prevention of any form of health hazard caused by the introduction of imported food, new technological processes having an impact on food or any other factors influencing the food we consume.

HC is the Federal department responsible for the health of Canadians with a mission to prevent and reduce risks associated with the food we consume. On the other hand, the CFIA is responsible for the inspection and application of the guidelines set forth by the HC for the safeguarding of food, animals and plants consumed by Canadians. Here is a non-exhaustive list of laws within HC's jurisdiction:
  • Feeds Act;
  • Food and Drugs Act;
  • Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act;
  • Fertilizers Act;
  • Fish Inspection Act;
  • Meat Inspection Act; and
  • Canada Agricultural Products Act.

There are also certain other risks identified and ultimately studied: (1) the use of Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin, a synthetic version of the naturally occurring growth hormone, (2) genetically modified food and (3) cloned animals. HC prohibits the use of Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin in Canada but does not see any health risks associated with genetically modified food or any food directly coming from or resulting from the use of cloned animals.

For more information on this, you can visit HC's website. What's interesting particularly about HC's website is that you can see if there are any advisories, warnings or recalls issued on any type of food or product sold in Canada.

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