Independent Expert Advisory Panel on the XL Foods Inc Beef Recall 2012

June 05, 2013 15:22 ET

Statement from the Independent Expert Advisory Panel on the XL Foods Inc Beef Recall 2012

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - June 5, 2013) - Earlier today, following several months of interviews with a wide variety of government and non-government organizations and individuals, the Independent Expert Advisory Panel submitted our report to Minister Ritz. We are honoured to have been invited by the Governor General in Council to investigate the circumstances leading to the contamination event; evaluate the effectiveness of the responses of the major food safety system partners; and, perhaps most importantly, to provide to the Minister our recommendations for change.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those individuals and organizations who contributed to our work and this review and who demonstrated their commitment to enhancing the food safety system for the benefit of all Canadians.

As noted in our review, the food safety system is complex and many stakeholders have responsibilities to ensure the safety of the food we eat. We heard several times that food safety is not a competitive issue and we believe that to be true. The responsibility for food safety begins with the beef producer, followed by the processor, the retailer, and ultimately, the consumer. Each partner in the food safety system has crucial accountabilities and an important role to play to protect the health and safety of all consumers.

Pursuant to our mandate to examine the events, circumstances and factors that contributed to the XL Foods Inc. E. coli 0157:H7 investigation and recall, we examined: preventative control programs, inspection policies and protocols, and information exchanges between CFIA and food safety system partners such as XL Foods Inc. and foreign food safety regulators. We also considered whether CFIA or XL could reasonably have detected the contamination prior to the beef products entering into distribution, and the effectiveness of the response by CFIA. Based on our findings we have made recommendations in the areas of: prevention strategies and regulatory oversight; surveillance and trend analysis; incident management and recall response; and communication with the public and stakeholders about providing food safety messages.

Canada's food safety system is complex and it works; however, continuous improvement, vigilance and commitment are all needed to continue to be a world leader in food safety. We believe the panel has identified recommendations that can contribute to that effort and we would encourage all Canadians with an interest in food safety to read the full review. It is our hope that we have captured the essential elements of the event and subsequent recall and that positive results will accrue from our recommendations.

We are pleased that there was a commitment from the outset to make this report public and are confident the Government will consider the recommendations. It is our hope that this will contribute to ensuring Canada's food safety system remains among the best in the world.

Independent Expert Advisory Panel
Ronald John Lewis, DVM (Chair)
Andre Corriveau, MD
W. Ronald Usborne, PhD

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