The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which is tasked with enforcing counterfeit food laws, has not historically punished violators to the full extent of its powers, instead frequently choosing to work alongside Canadian food businesses to help them get back into compliance. But, a recent high-profile prosecution involving food fraud has demonstrated that this permissive and reconciliatory approach to regulatory breaches may have come to an end.
In British Columbia, salmon are sacred. For centuries, they have nourished First Nations and settlers alike, and continue to sustain virtually all of the wildlife we cherish in B.C.: orcas, eagles, bears, seals and sea lions, wolves and even our forests. Wild salmon make life possible on the West Coast. So why are our federal and provincial governments trying to kill them? I do not speak of simple neglect. I mean actively working towards the destruction of wild salmon.
The majority of humans I have met are vastly humane. Comparatively, the majority of Government decisions are seen as exasperatingly profane. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has been slowly going the way of the other federal departments in our post-democratic Canada; they have gone from having the occasional nosebleed of odd policy, to having chronic influenza of misguided rulings, to now having a dead soul.
The conventional wisdom is that the risk increases from farm to fork, with farmers posing the least risk, followed by processors, then restaurants, and finally the consumers who often cause themselves to be become ill by failing to protect themselves with good hygienic practices and by throwing out foods that have expired. This is true when considering the total number of illnesses but breaks down when considering fatalities. Consumers often sicken themselves but don't generally kill themselves. So what's wrong with the system?
Self-policing has proven to be inadequate in the past as some food producers took an overly optimistic view of risk, dismissing (or unaware of) potential hazards to the extent that food safety was compromised. This is why the CFIA feels that external inspections by a regulatory agency are so important.
The U.S. FDA just convinced 25 drug companies to stop producing antibiotics for animals that are used in human medicine. Many believe Canada should follow suit. Clearly, it is humane to treat sick animals, but harm can come to humans if animal antibiotic use develops drug-resistant bugs that subsequently infect humans.