Opinions of Provincial Food Safety Specialists on Addressing Canadian Beef Processing Risks

Karen Fong, Justin Falardeau, Karen Rideout, Lynn Wilcott, Daniel Fong, Siyun Wang Biblographic citation: Food Protection Trends, vol. 37, no. 5, pp. 316-331, Sep 2017 Volume 37, Issue 5: Pages 316–331

Outbreaks associated with microbial pathogens in the Canadian beef industry have raised awareness regarding pathogen dissemination throughout the farm-to-fork continuum. Canadian beef processing represents a conjoined effort by federally-licensed and provincially-licensed processing establishments. Although federal facilities must adhere to rigorous standards because of the large-scale distribution of beef, they do not necessarily correlate with the standards of provincial facilities, which are governed by provincial regulatory bodies. This could lead to discrepancies in regulation and perceptions of risk between provinces.

Six meat safety experts from the Ministries of Agriculture or Health from five Canadian provinces were interviewed about risks, risk mitigation strategies, and limitations within these strategies throughout all stages of beef production. The most commonly identified risk was temperature abuse, identified by all five provinces. Existing policy and regulation, along with proper inspection and standardized procedures, served as dominant factors in mitigating risks. The experts also identified a variety of limitations within the current mitigation strategies, including a lack of standardized procedures within and between provinces, the absence of HACCP requirements, and lack of frequent inspection. Based on these accounts, it is concluded that provincial processing facilities require additional efforts (e.g., enhanced inspection, continual training, greater information sharing) to streamline current risk mitigation practices.

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