The Deadwood of Canadian Food Safety

Saturday’s National Post had an article about how the Canadian Food Inspection Agency plans to allow companies to police themselves when it comes to health and safety inspections.

The document, addressed to the president of the agency, details how the inspection of meat and meat products will downgrade agency inspectors to an “oversight role, allowing industry to implement food safety control programs and to manage key risks.”

Obviously this is a bad, bad thing. With diseases like bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) still present in our food systems, government inspection is imperative. But it seems that the government doesn’t care, as funding for BSE testing is also slated to be cut.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is also ending funding to producers to test cattle for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease) as part of a surveillance program, the document indicates, a move expected to save the agency about $24-million over the next three years.

Given the number of food borne illnesses that have shown up in the US factory-style food system in recent years, is that really something we want to be emulating here in Canada?

If you weren’t already concerned about where your food comes from, if you haven’t already made friends with a farmer, a baker and especially a butcher, now might be a good time to get that ball rolling. Because once this deregulation comes into effect and food companies don’t have to answer to a government inspector, it’s pretty safe to assume that an already screwed-up system is going to look like the wild wild west.