From the CBC:
In the aftermath of the massive E. coli scare at the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta., the House of Commons has passed legislation to modernize, consolidate and add consistency to Canada's food inspection system.
While the legislation is not a direct response to September's XL Foods shutdown, federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said Bill S-11 will provide a "more consistent" approach to food inspection, allowing a "uniform approach" across all food commodities.
Bill S-11 originated in the Senate in June. It passed a third reading unanimously Tuesday evening and only royal assent remains before the bill becomes law.
Speaking before the final vote on Tuesday, Ritz highlighted several improvements contained in the Safe Food for Canadians Act:
- Better traceability in the food system, making it easier to recall products if safety issues arise somewhere in the food chain.
- New record-keeping requirements for regulated facilities and more powers for inspectors to compel the production of documents in useable formats.
- Tougher penalties for those who violate established safety standards, increasing maximum fines from $250,000 to up to $5 million, or even higher at the court’s discretion.
- New penalties for "recklessly endangering the lives of Canadians" through tampering, deceptive practices or hoaxes.
- Registration for all importers, to add a greater degree of certainty to the food safety system.
- More authority for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to certify exporters, if required by other countries to facilitate trade.