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CFIA to go public with companies’ safety violations

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, as of March 16, is going online with the outcomes of its enforcement work on food safety.

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz on Wednesday announced the CFIA will issue reports on such activities, including information such as:

  • food imports that have been refused entry into Canada;
  • federally registered food establishments whose licenses have been suspended, cancelled or reinstated; and
  • notices of violations with warning and penalties, including identifying repeat offenders of animal transport regulations.

Currently, the CFIA said, it will post information on all notices of violations with warning and penalties and identify the company name of repeat offenders of animal transport regulations.

“There is a demonstrated public need for this type of disclosure, reinforced by the CFIA’s commitment to making more information public on its enforcement activities,” the agency said on its website. “This movement towards greater transparency is shared by other federal regulators in Canada and the U.S.

“Making this information public is a fair, balanced and measured approach to protecting the safety of Canada’s food supply and the resources upon which it depends. And, ultimately, it promotes public confidence in the federal government’s enforcement actions,” CFIA said.

“However, this is only the first phase,” the agency added. “The CFIA intends to eventually publish the names of all company violators, in a phased approach.”

Among the most recent such examples on the CFIA’s website are:

  • a shipment of milk powder from the United Arab Emirates, prohibited entry on Dec. 31, 2010, citing CFIA’s animal health regulatory requirements;
  • 20 notices of violation of animal transport regulations, carrying $52,000 in total penalties, by Nadeau Poultry Farm, topping a list of “repeat violators” between April and December 2010; and
  • the cancellation of the CFIA license of goose processor Northern Goose in October 2010, citing “failure to adhere” to the federal Meat Inspection Regulations.

The relevant section of CFIA’s site will also include the agency’s previously available listings of prosecution bulletins, published whenever “a conviction is obtained.”

“We know consumers want more information and we are delivering that transparency around what we are doing to protect Canadian families,” Ritz said in a release. “This will give our inspectors another tool in the toolbox to shine the light of transparency on repeat offenders and companies that try and import unsafe food.”

Bob Kingston, president of the Agriculture Union, Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), which represents federal food inspectors and lab technicians, said the union has “always encouraged full disclosure of food safety information to boost consumer safety and confidence.”

The CFIA initiative “is a step in the right direction,” Kingston said in the agency’s release.

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