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Inside Farming: Safe food at a low price

By Rudi Spruit, CanACT President, University of Guelph

Here in Canada, we have some of the lowest cost and safest food in the world. Canada has one of the lowest food freedom dates in the world – the date at which the average Canadian has made enough money to pay for their food for the entire year. This date, for the typical Canadian, sits around Feb. 14. That is a real testament to how well farmers and all other steps in the supply chain have worked to reduce their costs and pass that discount on to the consumer.

In Canada, about 12 per cent of income is spent on food, but in Egypt, that number sits up near 43 per cent. In China, the average citizen spends about 22 per cent of their income on food, and in Russia, about 31 per cent.

Not only do we have some of the lowest-cost food around the world, but it is also the safest food available. Canada continues to keep their reputation for the safest place to import food from, and passes the most stringent food safety rules, and thus the farmers in Canada are able to send food all around the globe.

There are very strict rules about food production due to a tough governing body, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The CFIA does regular inspection at processing plants, all seed plants, and even at farms. They are responsible for the food safety of Canada, from beef to dairy to honey, which may even include fining businesses for non-compliance to the laws.

Some examples of food safety are the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags in cattle. Each farmer will have a unique identification, and as the cattle go through its life, this number will stay with them forever. This way, when the animal gets processed, if there is a problem with the meat or there is a recall on the meat, it can be traced back to the farm it came from. Even in milk production there is a sample taken at every farm before the milk is picked up, so if there is ever a problem, it can be traced back to one specific farm on one specific day. A record is kept of each farm based on their quality of products and history of non-compliance, which can give a very good indicator if that farm might need more inspections to keep up the excellent reputation of Canada’s food system.

As Canadians, we should all be proud of this reputation. Most countries look to Canada to see how to develop a food safety program – they will buy food and raw materials only from Canada, and will base the success of their food programs on the Canadian food freedom date. This is an amazing fact, and due to the hard work of many Canadians, we can truly say that we have some of the safest food in the world at one of the lowest costs.

Inside Farming is a series of articles written by Canadian Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (CanACT) members at the University of Guelph.

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on June 13th, 2014 :: Filed under Food,Food safety,Speaking out,Uncategorized
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