A comprehensive analysis by the Canadian Parliament’s Food Safety Subcommittee following last summer’s listeriosis outbreak contains more than a dozen areas for improvement, including the implementation of food safety programs such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), traceability, a collaborative effort with the U.S. to develop a common approach to food safety standards, an enhanced foodborne illness surveillance system, better inter-agency protocols and increased inspection resources.

The report, entitled “Beyond the Listeriosis Crisis: Strengthening the Food Safety System,” was compiled after a series of public hearings between April and June 2009 on a number of issues related to food safety and the role that industry and the government need to play in ensuring the safety of the food supply. The hearings included testimony from various members of the Canadian government, producers, processors and other members of Canada’s food supply chain, as well as testimony from James H. Hodges, executive vice president of the American Meat Institute.

Hodges told members of the committee that ultimately, the responsibility for producing safe food rests with the manufacturer. “The government, whether it be in the United States or Canada, does not manufacture food,” he said. “They have a very important role in the oversight of setting appropriate standards to protect the public health and they have to have vigorous oversight to ensure that those standards are met.”

Hodges pointed out that the meat and poultry industry has been a strong advocate of a preventative approach and in fact petitioned the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to mandate HACCP plans in meat and poultry plants. That requirement took effect a decade ago and has helped enhance meat and poultry safety.

To read the entire article, link to the American Meat Institute.