Harmonization of legislation and regulations to achieve food safety: US and Canada perspective.

Keener, L., Nicholson-Keener, S.M., and Koutchma, T. (2013). "Harmonization of legislation and regulations to achieve food safety: US and Canada perspective.", Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 94(10), pp. 1947-1953. doi : 10.1002/jsfa.6295  Access to full text

Abstract

Trade in food and food ingredients among the nations of the world is rapidly expanding and, with this expansion, new supply chain partners, from globally disparate geographic regions, are being enrolled. Food and food ingredients are progressively sourced more from lesser developed nations. Food safety incidents in the USA and Canada show a high unfavorable correlation between illness outbreaks and imported foods. In the USA, for example, foodborne disease outbreaks caused by imported food appeared to rise in 2009 and 2010, and nearly half of the outbreaks, associated with imported food, implicated foods imported from areas which previously had not been associated with outbreaks. Projecting supply chains into new geographical regions raises serious questions about the capacity of the new supply chain partners to provide the requisite regulatory framework and sufficiently robust public health measures for ensuring the safety of the foods and foodstuffs offered for international trade. The laws, regulation and legislation among the many nations participating in the global food trade are, at best, inconsistent. These inconsistencies frequently give rise to trade disputes and cause large quantities of food to be at risk of destruction on the often dubious pretext that they are not safe. Food safety is often viewed through a political or normative lens. Often as not, this lens has been wrought absent scientific precision. Harmonization of food safety legislation around sound scientific principles, as advocated by the US Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), would ultimately promote trade and likely provide for incremental improvement in public health. Among the priority roles of most national governments are the advancement of commerce and trade, preservation of public health and ensuring domestic tranquility. Achieving these priorities is fundamental to creating and preserving the wealth of nations. Countries such as the Netherlands, Canada, Germany, Japan and the USA, for example, have very stable governments, are leaders in trade and commerce and enjoy high standards of public health. It is not by accident or coincidence that these nations are also among the world's wealthiest. Attainment of national priorities, especially those related to promoting trade in foodstuffs and also in preserving public health (food safety), would benefit greatly from international efforts in harmonizing food safety regulations and legislation.

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