Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

April 10, 2006 13:33 ET

AAFC: New Initiative Reinforces Commitment to Food Safety in Alberta

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(CCNMatthews - April 10, 2006) - Alberta is receiving $23 million from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to enhance and promote food safety systems in its food processing industry.

The funding was announced today by federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board Chuck Strahl and Alberta Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development Doug Horner.

The funding will support Alberta HACCP Advantage (AHA!), a Food Safety Initiative to help the food processing industry maintain its high standards in safety and quality. The initiative focuses on implementation to support the adoption of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)-based systems in the sector and outreach to raise awareness of food safety issues through various learning activities and pilot projects.

"The Canadian agri-food sector shows great innovation in meeting the needs of an evolving marketplace," said Minister Strahl. "Canada is a world leader in safe, high-quality food production and we are proud to be working with the Government of Alberta on this important initiative."

AHA! is the Government of Alberta program designed to provide a framework for non-federally registered food processors to implement an Alberta-recognized HACCP standard. HACCP is an internationally recognized, science-based approach that works to ensure food safety by anticipating and preventing problems during the production of food products.

Doug Horner, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development said, "Alberta already produces some of the safest food in the world. Adopting these HACCP-based systems will further consumer confidence in food produced in Alberta and open markets for Alberta food products. Our stakeholders have told us that this is a top priority for them and we're pleased to be able to take action."

Alberta's agriculture industry continues to flourish, especially in the production of value-added agricultural products. The value of shipments of manufactured food and beverage products totaled $10 billion in 2004. Currently there are more than 853 food-processing firms in Alberta employing 25,800 Albertans.

While HACCP is the standard that will be officially recognized by the Government of Alberta, federal funding will also be available to support processors to implement some alternative food safety standards, such as Good Manufacturing Practices and ISO 22000 systems.

The Food Safety Initiative is part of the Agricultural Policy Framework (APF), a federal-provincial-territorial strategy for long-term sustainability and profitability in the agriculture and agri-food sector. Alberta is one of five provinces to use the flexibility of its APF agreement with AAFC to move some federal funding to the Food Safety Initiative.

For additional information on the Canada-Alberta Food Safety Initiative and funding criteria visit: www.agric.gov.ab.ca/aha

BACKGROUNDER

The Canadian Food Safety and Quality Program

The Canadian Food Safety and Quality Program will enhance Canada's reputation as a producer of safe, high-quality food products. Fostering confidence in the safety and quality of Canadian food is recognized as critical to ensure the strength of the agriculture and agri-food sector over the long term.

The Canadian Food Safety and Quality Program has three components including a Systems Development component, an On-Farm Implementation component, and the Food Safety Initiative announced today.

The Food Safety Initiative

The Food Safety Initiative, called the Alberta HACCP Advantage (AHA!) in the province, involves implementation and outreach activities aimed, in part, at increasing the number of non-federally registered food processing plants having or moving towards Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) food safety systems in their operations.

Through the implementation element of this initiative, funding will be made available for provinces to support development and implementation of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), HACCP-based food safety systems, and/or ISO 22000 in non-federally registered food processing plants. Processors will be eligible to receive funding equivalent to 90 percent of eligible costs for the development and implementation of:

- HACCP-based systems and/or ISO 22000 to a maximum of $20,000;

- GMPs to a maximum of $15,000.

The outreach element includes activities aimed at raising awareness, knowledge development and implementation of food safety process control systems through pilot activities and the development of generic models and related administration within the food processing sector. These activities may include training and the preparation and dissemination of information materials.

HACCP

AHA! is the acronym for the Alberta HACCP Advantage, the Government of Alberta program designed to provide a framework for Alberta food processors to implement an Alberta-recognized HACCP standard. Specifically, AHA! offers a HACCP standard, resource materials and recognition protocol.

HACCP is an internationally recognized, science-based system that works to ensure food safety by anticipating and preventing problems during the production of food products.

Under HACCP, processors implement method controls throughout production. These control points occur from on farm production and proper storage on through adequate cooking procedures. HACCP systems also include prerequisite programs such as sanitation, recall, pest control, etc.

There are many benefits to implementing a HACCP system, including:

- food processed under effective HACCP systems will increase food safety;

- the marketplace is increasingly demanding adoption of HACCP;

- reduced costs of processing/product waste;

- improved product quality and consistency;

- reduced liability.

There are other HACCP recognition programs in existence, including the Food Safety Enhancement Program (for federally-recognized plants), the Ontario HACCP Advantage and other industry-accepted programs. Any of these programs will achieve outcomes similar to AHA!. Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development will offer recognition for any systems adopted by Alberta processors that meet the requirements of AHA!

A successful AHA! audit will qualify a facility for recognition by the Government of Alberta.

Protecting the safety of Canada's food supply is the result of a collective effort by producers, processors, distributors, inspectors, governments and consumers. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspects food produced at federally registered establishments while provincial and territorial governments are responsible for inspecting food processing establishments that distribute products provincially and territorially. All food processing establishments are required to meet food safety and quality standards.

By continuing to take a leadership role, and through its active participation in Canada's food safety system, the Government of Canada will continue to strengthen this system and protect the health of Canadians.

Contact Information

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    Media Relations
    (613) 759-7972 or 1-866-345-7972
    or
    Minister Strahl's Office
    Jeff Howard
    Press Secretary
    (613) 759-1059
    or
    Alberta Ag Media Line
    (780) 422-1005
    Dial 310-0000 for toll-free access outside Edmonton