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Harper Government Takes Action To Improve Food Safety

The new process is several steps shorter and the steps are significantly faster because the regulations no longer need to be changed every time a new food additive is approved. 

Instead, should the department determine that a food additive should be authorized (based on the results of the safety assessment and comments received), it's simply a matter of updating a list on the Health Canada web site in order to allow the use of the food additive in Canada. It is expected that the new process will save between 12 and 18 months.

For cases where an applicant was looking to extend the use of an already approved food additive, Health Canada already employed a streamlined system which used Interim Marketing Authorizations to permit the use of the additive while the regulatory amendments were being completed. Under the new system, this type of authorization will also be accomplished faster, enhancing the process that was already in place.  The most significant gains, however, will be for new food additives as outlined above.

Here are some examples of how the new system could improve food safety:

CITREM

CITREM is a product used to keep ingredients in infant formula, including important nutritional components, evenly spread within the formula.  This helps provide consistent and full delivery of nutrients to newborns. It also prevents clogging when the infant formula is delivered through a feeding tube.  Health Canada determined that CITREM could be safely used in June 2008. However, it took another 41 months for the necessary regulatory changes and approvals to enable industry to use this product in infant formula and other foods.

C. maltaromaticum (MICOCIN®)

C. maltaromaticum is a food additive used in certain processed meat and poultry products to help control the growth of harmful bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes.  Health Canada determined that this additive could be safely used in December 2007, but it took another 36 months for the required regulatory changes and approvals to enable industry to market this product.

In both of these cases, the new process would have made a significant difference in protecting the health and safety of Canadians by allowing these additives to be used much sooner.

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