Business & Policy
Canada tops in overall world food safety performance ranking
By University of Guelph and the Conference Board of Canada
November 20, 2014 - Canada ranks first along with Ireland among 17 countries in 2014 World Ranking of Food Safety Performance, a new report released today by the Conference Board of Canada’s Centre for Food in Canada and the Food Institute of the University of Guelph.
The report ranks food safety performance for 17 countries within the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, using 10 selected indicators across three areas of food safety risk governance: risk assessment, risk management and risk communication.
Prof. Sylvain Charlebois, Marketing and Consumer Studies, said the report shows Canadians can generally feel secure about their food.
“Canada did well, which is not overly surprising. Since 2008, Canada has been a top-tier country. However, work remains to improve its performance by more frequent reporting and relaying of information to the public on both chemical risks in food consumption (Total Diet Studies) and nutrition and dietary studies, with additional improvements to traceability and radionuclides standards,” he said.
Canada's excellent grades in most food safety performance metrics were due to its consistently low number of food-borne illness cases and reported recalls, Canada's new policy on allergen labeling and a greater focus on transparency, said Dr. Jean-Charles Le Vallée, Senior
Research Associate and lead author of the report.
The study said some countries known for food safety have recently struggled.
“Australia, which has historically been a top-tiered country, is now lagging, and the Netherlands, Denmark and Japan also dropped in our survey compared to 2010,” Charlebois said.
“Germany’s performance was sub-par at best. The country has been hit hard by several major outbreaks in recent years, particularly with produce, and these have affected consumer confidence. We see little or no evidence that German food safety authorities are learning from past outbreaks.”
Strengthening food safety is becoming a global issue.
“Given that our economy is more globalized than ever, understanding other food safety regimes is critical moving forward. Our continent seems to be performing quite well overall. Food safety risks seem to be mitigated strategically well in our country and south of the border.”
But we need to work on food safety as consumers look for greater certainty, he said.
“We conduct these surveys so countries can learn from each other. Often, one country facing an outbreak precedes a similar situation in another country a few years later. In Canada, by being more proactive, it could be argued that the impact of both mad cow and listeria crises would have been tempered.”
The report was prepared by the Conference Board of Canada’s Centre for Food in Canada and the Food Institute of the University of Guelph.