Consultation Launches On Canada's Proposed Food, Consumer Safety Action Plan

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Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, today launched a public consultation on the proposed Food and Consumer Safety Action Plan. The Action Plan, which was announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on December 17, 2007, outlines a series of initiatives designed to modernize and strengthen Canada's safety system for food, health and consumer products.

The consultation on the proposed measures will provide interested Canadians, stakeholders, industry, provinces and territories with an opportunity to learn details of the plan and provide input on how it will be implemented.

"Last month we announced a Food and Consumer Safety Action Plan - which is a comprehensive set of new measures we would like to move forward on - to ensure that Canadians maintain their confidence in the food, health, and consumer products they buy," said Minister Clement. "By first launching this 30-day consultation of the plan, we are ensuring Canadians can review and provide valuable input before its implementation."

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"Food safety is important to all Canadians, and with this new plan our Government is ensuring that Canada continues to have one of the safest food supplies in the world," said Minister Ritz. "Consulting with suppliers, processors, importers, retailers, and consumers is a vital part of our plan, as we will need to keep pace with industry challenges, growth in imported products, and changes in the global marketplace."

The proposed plan will focus on the following three key areas:

* Preventing problems in the first place - Government would provide better safety information to consumers and guidance to industries on building or improving safety throughout their supply chains. This would encourage a renewed focus on prevention.

* Targeting the highest risks - Government would be able to require companies that produce consumer and health products to conduct safety tests and provide the results. That information would allow a closer watch on products where the risks are not yet fully understood or that pose the greatest potential hazard to the public. Broader authority over food imports and the use of food safety systems would also be sought.

* Rapid Response - New legislation would allow the government to take faster action than ever before to protect the public when a problem occurs. This includes the power to pull unsafe consumer and health products from store shelves, and better information to speed food product recalls.

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