A report from round one consultations on the next generation of agriculture and agri-food policy for Canada refers to the direction of the food safety component into three core elements:
Resource protections and food safety were presented as ways to meet requirements for market entry, whereas food quality was presented as a way to capture market opportunities.
The Food Safety Initiative
The Government of Canada, the Provincial and Territorial governments, and the agriculture and agri-food industry are working together to implement a plan to strengthen Canada's agriculture sector. The plan, the Agricultural Policy Framework (APF), includes programs in areas of Food Safety and Quality, Environment, Science and Innovation, Market Development and Trade, Business Risk Management or BRM, and Renewal.
Under the Food Safety and Quality Chapter of the APF, Canadian governments are working with farmers and the agri-food industry to help them develop and implement government-recognized safety and quality-control systems from field to retail and food service levels. The Canadian Food Safety and Quality Program is a key part of the APF that will enhance Canada's reputation as a producer of safe, high-quality food products.
The Food Safety Initiative (FSI) Component, under the Food Safety and Quality Chapter, is geared towards provincial initiatives and is targeted at enhancing the safety of food products produced at federal and non-federally registered food processors by increasing the number of processors moving towards and/or having Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) food safety systems in place. The FSI consists of 3 components: Implementation, Outreach, and Research and Development.
1. Implementation provides direct grants to non-federally registered food processing plants to support the adoption of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems.
2. Outreach includes activities (e.g. pilots and generic model development) directed at the food processing industry that advance food safety awareness, knowledge development and implementation of food safety process control systems based on the HACCP Advantage series of programs.
3. Research and Development provides funding and incentives in the areas of traceability and surveillance.
The Outreach component of the FSI provides for pilot studies of a plant's GMP and/or HACCP system based on the Ministry's HACCP Advantage series of programs. Food processors and food packaging material manufacturers can benefit from the FSI funding by participating in these pilot studies. Information collected from pilots, including microbial and economic performance will be shared with other Plant operators and the APF Food Safety and Quality Federal/Provincial/Territorial Working Group.
The Ministry involvement with pilot projects will include administration, technical advice, microbial testing and testing of cost-benefit tools. The Ministry is planning to conduct several pilots in Ontario. Pilot projects will be chosen based on criteria such as industry readiness and food safety risk.
The Ministry is continually in the process of strengthening Ontario's food safety strategy by providing leadership, support and a regulatory framework. From 2002 to 2004, the Ministry worked with industry to develop the HACCP Advantage series of programs, user-friendly food safety management programs for non-federally registered food processors.
The HACCP Advantage series of programs include: GMP Advantage, HACCP Advantage and HACCP Advantage Plus+.
The GMP Advantage program includes 58 food safety standards for the operation of food processing establishments. GMPs are generally recognized as being a "stepping stone" to adoption of HACCP systems, and are generally included in HACCP programs as "prerequisites".
The HACCP Advantage program involves meeting all the GMP Advantage standards, including Critical Control Point Training and Equipment & Specialized Process Training, as well as completing HACCP plans. The HACCP plans address product and process-related hazards. HACCP is a science-based system internationally recognized as the primary means for ensuring food safety throughout the food chain. The essence of HACCP is prevention and control of hazards.
The HACCP Advantage Plus+ program involves meeting all the GMP Advantage standards, including Critical Control Point Training and Equipment & Specialized Process Training, completion of HACCP plans and Traceability and Security GMPs.
The HACCP Advantage series of programs provide a tool to apply consistency and universality to food processing plants. GMP and HACCP systems empower the industry to accept its share of food safety responsibility. Producers, processors, distributors and retailers of food products all directly manufacture and handle the food products we eat. These groups have the most direct influence to ensure that these products are safe. With programs like HACCP Advantage series, industry can lead the way to improved food safety through the entire food continuum.
The Ministry is now moving towards program delivery, including encouraging adoption and providing support. Pilot projects are one type of support provided by the Ministry.