Special to Globe and Mail Update
September 4, 2008 at 12:09 AM EDT
Source of Article: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080903.wcofood04/BNStory/specialComment/home
To some of us, each passing day makes sterile food look more appealing - too bad it doesn't taste very good. It seems that nearly every time we change the way food is processed, we're outsmarted by an unrecognized or underestimated food-borne pathogen. No safety system can provide protection against every threat to Canadians, but there are ways to reduce the risks.
Safe food is the responsibility of producers, processors, distributors, retailers, regulators and consumers. It is naive to think that safety can be tested or inspected into food - it must be built in. Although the Canadian Food Inspection Agency can be effective in deterring fraudulent activity by the minority, it is not the primary determinant of food safety for the majority, who are motivated to produce consistently safe food in order to remain in business.
programs such as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, combined with CFIA
audit verification, can provide adequate assurance, with enhanced inspection
triggered by poor audit performance. Recently, in the
Efforts can't end with the
adoption of a more active surveillance program. Critics will be quick to point
out that despite the implementation of a similar
In agriculture, responsible environmental stewardship involves recycling soil organic matter by applying manure to cropland and pastures. This manure is frequently contaminated by pathogens shed by animals. Meanwhile, animal and plant waste is recycled as feed for food and companion animals. These activities can unwittingly recycle zoonotic pathogens, which can cause infectious diseases to jump from animals to people.
Trade in animal feed and
feed ingredients spans the globe, an industry worth roughly $25-billion
annually. Most countries, including
Animal feed can continuously introduce zoonotic bacterial pathogens to farms and our food supply. Evidence to support this claim is controversial in most case studies, but not all of them. The reality is that with increased intense animal production, we are seeing these pathogens in feed and food animals where they haven't been before. Motivation to tackle the issue is weak given the background occurrence of zoonotic pathogens on the farm. But the results could be dramatic, like they were with bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
Richard A. Holley is a
professor in the department of food science at the
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