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Canada tops Conference Board’s food safety rankings of 17 countries

From The Globe And Mail

Canada sits atop a list of countries ranked for their food safety systems, but has work to do in three key areas, a Conference Board of Canada report has concluded.

Canada tied with Ireland for first place in the study of 17 developed countries. However the study noted several weaknesses in the Canadian system, including the ability to trace food through the processing chain, tests on the levels of pesticides and other chemicals and establishing acceptable levels of radiation in what we eat, according to the report.

Canada placed fifth in 2008 and fourth in 2010, the previous time the study was done.

To compile the ranking, Prof. Charlebois, professor and associate dean at the University of Guelph’s College of Business, and co-author Jean-Charles Le Vallée looked at data in 10 areas, including food-borne-illness rates, food recalls and dietary consumption studies. France, Britain, the United States and Norway followed Canada and Ireland in the ranking, while Belgium placed last, dragged down by heavy usage of pesticides on crops and higher rates of food-borne salmonella.

Canada’s rates of food poisoning improved from 2010, earning it a “superior” ranking. The case that received the most media attention was the E. coli outbreak at XL Foods Inc. in Brooks, Alta., which sickened 18 people. But Prof. Charlebois noted there were at least three other E. coli cases that made more people sick but received little public attention, including 30 illnesses linked to lettuce in the Maritimes and Ontario in 2012.

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