Changes to food safety rules could lead to faster recalls, federal agency says

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Canada is introducing new food safety regulations that the agency involved says could lead to faster recalls at the grocery store.

The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, which were published in the Canada Gazette Wednesday morning, tighten the rules around tracking, importing and exporting foods and largely bring Canada’s laws in line with the U.S.

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay are set to announce the changes at 11 a.m. ET in Ottawa.

The regulations, which come into force early next year, will require suppliers, importers and exporters to keep documents to trace food one step forward and and one step back — forward to the immediate customer and backward to the immediate supplier.

Officials with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said that could lead to quicker recalls of unsafe food.

The government estimates 238 Canadians die every year from food-borne illnesses, and 11,600 are hospitalized.

A worker harvests romaine lettuce in Salinas, Calif., on Aug. 16, 2007. Food inspectors still don’t know how romaine lettuce became contaminated with dangerous E. coli bacteria. (Paul Sakuma/Associated Press)

“The increasingly global marketplace for food commodities has created more opportunities for the introduction and spread of contaminants that may put Canadian food safety at risk,” reads the regulations.

The regulations also introduce new licences for people and businesses who import and prepare food and shores up safety requirements to better align with international standards.

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