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Harper Government Takes Action To Improve Food Safety

OTTAWA, Nov. 8, 2012 /CNW/ - The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, today announced that new regulations have come into force, updating Health Canada's 50-year-old rules for regulating food additives and improving food safety.

"These changes are further proof that our Government is serious about protecting the health and safety of Canadian consumers and their families," said Minister Aglukkaq.  "By making these common sense changes, we are helping safer foods get on to store shelves more quickly."

Food additives are substances that affect the nature of a food (flavour, colour, consistency etc.) and remain in the finished food product at some level. Health Canada maintains a list of all approved food additives. Until now, even when scientists showed a new additive could reduce the risk of a potential serious food-borne illness outbreak, it took an additional 12 to 18 months for the regulatory process to actually change the list and make the product legal.

Health Canada's new system doesn't change the thorough safety assessment that is conducted by Health Canada scientists for all food additives. It will, however, allow Health Canada to act faster to authorize food additives that have health and safety benefits, or to respond to health and safety concerns about an existing additive. It's expected that once the scientific assessment has been completed for new food additives, the process to update these lists will save between 12 and 18 months.

" Canada's system for regulating food additives was set-up over 50 years ago," added Minister Aglukkaq. "What worked in the 1950s and '60s simply can't keep up with the needs and expectations of Canadians today."

Moving forward, Health Canada will maintain publicly available lists on its web site. Any listed additives are considered legal for use in Canada, and any limits on its use will be clearly spelled out. Please visit the Health Canada website for the additive lists.

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FACT SHEET October 2012

New Food Additive Process

Health Canada's new modern process for regulating food additives does not change the thorough safety assessment that is conducted by Health Canada scientists for all food additives.

It will, however, allow Health Canada to act faster to authorize food additives that have health and safety benefits, or to respond to health and safety concerns about an existing additive.

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