Food safety advocacy
It’s a long, long road
The Canadian Supply Chain Food Safety coalition (the coalition) has been the Canadian agri-food sector’s leading advocate in matters of food safety for nearly two decades. The coalition will be celebrating its 19th anniversary on December 8, 2019. During this entire journey, the coalition has stayed on track and on message, calling for an integrated national system of food safety assurance that is applied to the entire supply chain and based on a national food safety strategy.
The journey begins
The coalition arose out of a wave of interest in the development of industry-led, HACCP-based food safety programs that had started in the mid-1990s. Under the guidance of its founding and current executive director, Albert Chambers, the coalition has facilitated dialogue among industry and government players in the interest of ultimately implementing a national co-ordinated approach to food safety.
Examples of such collaborations are the commodity-specific on-farm food safety programs that involved stakeholders from along the supply chain and also collaborations amongst the commodity groups through the Canadian On-Farm Food Safety Working Group. These examples were the basis for what was then and is still a uniquely Canadian initiative — the collaborative involvement of industry associations from all along the supply chain in a food safety advocacy association.
This association also helped to draw attention to the need for modernizing Canada’s antiquated food inspection laws and regulations. Working with members and others in the agri-food sector in 2011 and 2012, the coalition actively supported the Safe Food for Canadians Act during its consideration by the House of Commons and the Senate. The passage of that act marked the beginning of another six years of member collaboration and advice to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in the drafting and revision of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, now being implemented with a continuing high level of support from food industry sub-sectors.
Some of what the coalition advocated as components of a cohesive national food safety approach or strategy have fallen by the wayside. The most prominent of these initiatives was the establishment and ongoing refinement of a nationally adopted training program that could be used to equal advantage by the public and private sectors, particularly by government inspectors and third-party auditors. Other initiatives have been successful. The coalition’s activities have ensured that the federal/provincial/territorial recognition programs for on-farm and post-farm, industry-led, HACCP-based food safety programs have continued to meet the needs of many small- and medium-sized food businesses along the supply chain.
The coalition’s future work plans include working with Health Canada, the CFIA and the Public Health Agency of Canada:
- To improve the new food safety regulations, bringing them into greater alignment with industry’s best practices and international standards;
- To bring all participants in the supply chains (large and small, including transportation carriers, storage facilities and others) under Canada’s food safety regulatory system;
- To establish a transparent and science-based process for setting the new food safety objectives that will be an integral element of the outcomes-based food safety regime; and,
- To put in place, for the first time, an on-going and effective industry-government food safety consultative process linked to the highest levels of these agencies.
As the coalition enters its 20th year, it is composed of 26 members, representing every segment of the aquatic and terrestrial food supply chains, from input suppliers and importers through primary production, processing, further processing and manufacturing to transportation, distribution and marketing at retail, food service and export. These members are aligned in what more needs to be done. They remain committed to the core strategic objectives of the coalition — ultimately to knit all that has been accomplished into a “national food safety strategy.” This strategy will reassure Canadians that no matter where their food is sourced, in Canada or in the global market, that it meets the same rigorous standards for food safety.
Strength in numbers
The coalition extends an open invitation to all associations operating within the Canadian food supply chain to become members. For more information contact Albert Chambers at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the coalition’s website at