A piece of apple in a petrie dish being held by a lab tech wearing blue gloves

The 4 Stages of Canadian Food Safety

Canada’s food system is designed to ensure that consumers have access to food which is safe and nutritious to eat. This is monitored and regulated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). At all stages of food production, from the primary source (e.g. farm, greenhouse, etc.) to the end-product, safety is of the highest importance in raising animals and crops for consumption in the marketplace.

Stage 1: Farms

Canadian farmers follow best practices and guidelines to help them produce some of the safest food in the world. The government approves and monitors the use offarm chemicals and livestock medications. There are also best practices and laws established by government to ensure that the welfare of animals and the natural environment are protected. For example many commodity groups within the agri-food sector (e.g. turkey, egg, sheep, beef, dairy, grain, etc.) have on-farm safety programs which help to ensure food production is safe.

Stage 2: Importing

Food that comes into Canada must undergo government inspection, including ingredient labels. At the border entry points, the Canadian Border Services Agency follows CFIA policies and regulations to examine food and agricultural products. Shipments which require follow-up are referred to the CFIA.40

Stage 3: The Processing Plant

The government works with processing plants to ensure that staff members are properly trained in health and safety issues and that the food processing environment is properly cleaned and sanitized. Quality and safety are paramount at this stage of food production.

HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points)

HACCP is a systematic approach to food safety. This approach is used across the food system (e.g. production, processing) to identify and prevent food safety hazards.,,45

Stage 4: Retail

Food stores and restaurants want to bring quality products to their customers. When food reaches the restaurant or grocery store, establishment owners must meet government standards of safe food storage and handling. Packaging, ingredient lists and sanitary conditions must all meet government regulations in order for any company to stay in business.


Career Connection

There are several career opportunities within the agriculture sector which help to keep our food supply safe:

  • The government employs inspectors to assess food imports.
  • Commodity groups such as the Dairy Farmers of Canada employ validators in their Canadian Quality Milk Program. Validators visit farms to ensure that food safety hazards are being prevented and reduced.44
  • Processing plants employ people to test the cleanliness of equipment and quality of product.