After decades of consultation, Health Canada to propose allowing irradiated ground beef to be sold

CTV News reports Health Canada will propose regulatory changes to Food and Drug Regulations next month that would allow the sale of irradiated ground beef in Canada.

consult_3A webpage on the department’s website states the proposed amendments would add fresh and frozen raw ground beef to a list of foods that are already permitted to undergo radiation treatment.

It says the purpose would be to would allow, but not require, the beef industry to use irradiation to “improve the safety of their products.”

Health Canada spokeswoman Maryse Durette says the proposed regulations for ground beef will be announced in June in the Canada Gazette and that a public consultation period will follow.

Industry groups in Canada have sought irradiation for over a decade as a way to prevent the spread of E. coli and other dangerous bacteria, but negative public reaction to it has slowed progress.

Health Canada earlier proposed to permit the sale of irradiated ground beef in 2002, but according to the web page it was never finalized “due to mostly negative stakeholder reaction.”

“I think public perception has changed,” says Mark Klassen, director of technical services with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, based in Alberta.

The cattlemen’s association first launched an application to use irradiation for ground beef in 1998. Its updated application in 2013 to irradiate all kinds of beef followed a tainted beef recall at what was then the XL Foods plant in southern Alberta.

Bruce Cran of the Consumers Association of Canada, which has been lobbying for irradiation, is pleased with Health Canada’s decision to move forward on ground beef. But he says chicken and salad vegetables should be irradiated, too.

“The science has been in on this one for decades that it does no harm,” says Cran, who adds the risk of foodborne illnesses is high without it.

“They’re going to have a catastrophe if they don’t do something, in my opinion.”

I’ve gotten divorced, remarried, had another kid and moved to the U.S. – CFIA updates bottled water consultations ongoing since 2002

Yesterday, I made fun of Campbell soup boss Doug Conant who said he wanted Canadian-style food safety regulation in the U.S.

Here’s an example of the lightening speed with which Canadian bureaucracy works:

In 2002, Health Canada and the CFIA began consulting on proposed regulatory changes for bottled water and prepackaged ice in a document called Making it Clear – Renewing the Federal Regulations on Bottled Water: A Discussion Paper.

During the consultation, several significant technical challenges with the proposal were identified including: how to identify the source of the bottled water and the specific microbiological, chemical and radiological requirements listed in the proposed amendments.

Since that time, Health Canada and the CFIA have been consulting further with stakeholders to identify how to address these specific issues. A summary of consultations and comments received on proposed revisions to food and drug regulations on prepackaged water and ice up until November 2008 has been posted as a next step in this process to develop regulations.

This was published today. That’s seven years. And they’re still years from finishing.