Home > Transparency Posts > Canadian and U.S. Agencies Partner to Modernize Food Safety

Canadian and U.S. Agencies Partner to Modernize Food Safety

December 12, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

As Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the Food and Drug Administration, I led a delegation to Ottawa on October 21 to meet with officials from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada to discuss how to best cooperate on our efforts to modernize our respective food safety systems.  I also had the opportunity to hear from Canadian industry representatives on their ideas of how FDA could implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in the most efficient manner as we continue to protect public health.  This trip furthered our efforts to reach out and collaborate with our colleagues abroad who will be our partners as we put FSMA in place, especially those provisions concerning imported food.

The trip also allowed both sides to step back and reflect on the importance of the U.S.-Canadian relationship in achieving the goals that FSMA has laid out for us, in line with FDA’s mission to protect public health.  On the trade front, Canada is the United States’ largest trading partner in terms of agricultural imports.  Because so much food is exchanged across our border every day, our governments share a keen interest in ensuring that this food is safe for our consumers.  However, we also have an obligation to make sure that companies are not unnecessarily burdened.

A major highlight of the trip for me was the industry outreach session where I received comments and questions on FSMA directly from Canadian industry.  We listened as industry described several different types of preventive control programs that they believe could be useful for FDA as we implement FSMA requirements.  Industry also expressed keen interest in the Foreign Supplier Verification Program, especially with regard to its proposed scope and applicability.  We also answered questions on topics ranging from the definition of “importer” to exceptions for small business to user fees.

Our delegation also engaged on a technical level with our Canadian counterparts to investigate areas where we could cooperate on food safety modernization efforts.  Exchanging inspection and compliance information, with a view toward leveraging each other’s resources, was an activity that both sides agreed to pursue.  Also, Canada expressed interest in working with FDA’s FSMA imports implementation team on best practices for import controls, laboratory accreditation and third party certification, among other modernization areas.

The FDA looks forward to continue working with our CFIA and Health Canada counterparts in the months ahead to strategize, prioritize, and exchange ideas on how we can cooperate to accomplish our common public health goals. Our respective food safety systems are already well-developed, but we recognize the need to make continual improvements.  Our modernization efforts will not necessarily be identical, but I know that close cooperation between U.S. and Canadian regulators, such as we had during our trip, will allow us to move forward together to protect public health and continue as strong trade partners.

Michael R. Taylor
Deputy Commissioner for Foods

  1. Wonder Food Blog
    December 13, 2011 at 9:25 am

    I think its good news that both the US and Canadian authorities are working together on ways to modernize and improve food safety and to harmonize these regulations to the benefit of both countries. However, its important that too strict rules are not implemented that makes it too difficult for smaller businesses to meet and in effect serves to hinder competition and thereby helping big businesses.

  2. Bill Gustafson
    December 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    This just makes sense. We import and export food so it is essential we work with all our partners in whatever ways we can.

  3. Rob Stuart
    December 13, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    The following quote appeared in the background information for the FSMA “About 48 million people (1 in 6 Americans) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is a significant public health burden that is largely preventable.” http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/FSMA/ucm239907.htm.

    The problem with that quote is that the word ESTIMATED is left out. The CDC estimates that over 3000 people die each year from foodborne organisms. Interestingly, there is no data from CDC giving the reported number of confirmed deaths from foodborne organisms.

    I think the number of deaths reported in the estimate are grossly overstated and is probably less than 100, not over 3000.

    • ChefBoy
      January 25, 2012 at 1:51 am

      Couldn’t agree more good sir. They also fail to mention that the majority of foodbourn illness situations arise in the home. Poor handling practices on the domestic front, a reluctance to throw “food that looks OK” out. Purchasing the “managers special items” in the grocery store, taking them home and freezing them, then thawing them improperly. This last discribed scenario has bacteria production rate that would make an ammeba blush. The reporting of half truths to support agenda should be regulated. Nevermind, we’re smarter than that….?

    • Stevie
      September 26, 2014 at 12:03 am

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  4. roy - מטבחים
    December 13, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    This particular just makes sense. All of us transfer and move foods so it is essential all of us work with the whole companions inside whatever methods we could

  5. Kurt Larson
    December 13, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    This is an excellent post by Mr. Taylor. It is a little oblique; so it is easy to misunderstand. It is telling me that there is a focus, at this time, on understanding the affect FSMA has on close and reliable trading partners, such as Canada. That there is a willingness, when appropriate, to cooperate by finding ways to reduce the trade barriers imposed by the requirements of the FSMA.

  6. dogvault
    December 14, 2011 at 5:02 am

    It sounds like there is a lot of work to still be done. Will this end in a formal joint agreement document or law that is binding on both parties? What are the expected outcomes and how long until they are achieved?

  7. service@floodtechs.com
    December 21, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Bad foods always seem to find their way into our country. Although it seems that most of incidents originate from within our country. Overall i think the FDA is doing a good job considering the volume of things that come into our country. I think the process can and will only get better!

  8. Water Damage Restoration
    December 21, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    I also think that if it wasn’t for the FDA and the great things that they do, there would be a lot more outbreaks that originate from tainted food consumption.

  9. Eater
    December 27, 2011 at 11:31 am

    I really appreciate these efforts. I think regular, unexpected food safety inspections in the stores are the only way out. Otherwise, meeting food safety standards once doesn’t mean meeting them afterwards for any food manufacturer.

  10. davilacarlos61@yahoo.com.br
    January 3, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Import is a good deal for savings.

  11. Luz Perri
    January 10, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Good idea right there Rob!

  12. Strom
    January 12, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    I think also that its good news that both the US and Canadian authorities are working together on ways to modernize and improve food safety and to harmonize these regulations to the benefit of both countries. I Hope they will gone on to protect public health.

  13. Dave Andrich
    January 16, 2012 at 2:47 am

    To: Michael Taylor

    As Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the Food and Drug Administration, please explain to me how cottonseed oil can be approved for use in foods?

    Cotton is not a food crop. As such, many harmful pesticides are sprayed to protect the crop. These pesticides are composed of harmful toxins like cyanide, propargite, dicofol, trifluralin and naled which are carcinogenic in nature. These pesticides seep into the cotton seeds and when oil is extracted from these seeds some amount of toxins gets mixed. Using such an oil for consumption can trigger the development of cancerous cells and make an individual more prone to different types of cancer.

    I urge you to ban the use of cottonseed oil in our food products.

    Thank you,

    Dave Andrich

  14. Health
    January 18, 2012 at 4:08 am

    Food safety is a major concern, I am glad we are taking the proper steps and looking exactly what the process are to ensure we are getting safe foods from countries we trade with.

  15. beccadog10
    January 20, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Cotton seed meal has been used to make Russell Stover candies for over 50 years. Cottonseed oil is used in a variety of foods from chips to salad dressings. The oil is also refined into glycerine and soaps. What’s left of the kernel is ground into cottonseed meal that is used for animal feed and fertilizer. In fact, before I became informed of how toxic cotton has become, I used cotton seed meal on my organic garden. Now, I would never eat anything from that soil, but cotton seed is a good source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as numerous minor elements.

    However, cotton in the USA is one of the most toxic sources of really nasty pest controls. I would not recommend eating anything that contains cotton seed oil or meal, or feeding it to livestock.

    The chemical cotton industry in the USA eliminated organic cotton. Hence, I buy organic cotton from Turkey. Even India, which used to grow solely organic, was lied to by the biotechnology-pesticide industry and their own government about the toxicity of genetically modified and herbicide tolerant crops.

    The plan by the biotech-pesticide industry industry is to take over the world and they are on their way with the help of the U.S. government and both parties. Collusion and greed is the name of the game.

  16. Katipsoi Zunontee
    January 29, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Yes, good discussion, food safety is a major concern too! I liked!
    I think Authority to prevent intentional contamination:FDA must issue regulations to protect against the intentional adulteration of food, including the establishment of science-based mitigation strategies to prepare and protect the food supply chain at specific vulnerable points. (Final rule due 18 months following enactment)

  17. California Blogger
    February 10, 2012 at 3:11 am

    The industry outreach session, which encompassed preventive control programs, the Foreign Supplier Verification Program, and exceptions for small business to user fees sounds like it was comprehensive and encouraging.

    Food safety modernization, swapping inspection and compliance info, and mutually leveraging resources will enable the two allied nations to protect public health as strong trade partners throughout this new century. What a productive meeting indeed.

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    February 13, 2012 at 3:39 am

    This cooperation is very good because it will solve the food problem in facing today

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  21. petsnnature
    March 28, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Food borne diseases simply cannot be eradicated, but at least we must do as much as we can to minimize the impact. Unfortunately, with growth of the human population and bigger food production every year, it’s hard to keep up with problems that arise. It’s good that USA and Canada decided to join their forces in order to prevent as much problems as they can.

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