Canadian food safety could get makeover

Canada is one of the latest nations to lay out plans to overhaul its food safety programs, including severe penalties for those who violate the law.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq are expected to introduce the legislation, dubbed the Safe Food for Canadians Act, today, according to the Toronto Star.

Among the changes to be proposed in the legislation, the fine for those convicted of serious breaches of food safety law could face up to $5 million in fines – a massive jump from the current maximum fine of $250,000. However, the courts would have the discretion to up the fines higher than $5 million.

The legislation also is expected to streamline regulatory and legislative agencies, according to the Star. This could include combining eight different inspection programs into one and bringing five, food safety-related statutes under one umbrella.

The move to streamline comes after a 2008 study of a listeriosis outbreak in Canadian deli meats, according to Canada.com.

In other food safety-related news, the U.S. House appropriations subcommittee on agriculture Wednesday, approved smaller budgets than last year for the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the FDA, according to Food Safety News.

Under the bill, the FSIS will receive $996 million – a $9 million cut from the 2012 budget. The FDA is set to receive $2.5 billion in discretionary funding, down $16.3 million from the year before.

The budget must still go through the House appropriations committee and the full House before it is reconciled with the Senate’s version of the budget.

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