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What is the Canadian On-Farm Food Safety Program?

The Canadian On-Farm Food Safety Program (COFFS) is a producer-driven partnership between industry and government that helps national commodity organizations develop and implement on-farm food safety programs based on the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) definitions and principles.

What is HACCP?

HACCP is an internationally recognized system of quality assurance endorsed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The HACCP system is effective mainly because it is a scientific, "preventative approach [which] focuses first on identifying and then on reducing or eliminating potential food safety hazards" (An introduction to On-Farm Food Safety Practices, 2).

Why was the COFFS Program established?

The COFFS Program was established in May 1997 to respond to increasing consumer concerns about the safety of their food. Now, through the success of the COFFS program, Canada is becoming recognized as a leader in food safety. The program demonstrates to consumers and processors, both nationally and internationally that Canadian farmers produce food that is among the safest in the world.

How is the COFFS Program funded?

The COFFS Program is a cost-shared program between industry and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). AAFC has been contributing funds for the program through its Canadian Adaptation and Rural Development Fund. Beginning in April 2003 this funding will continue under the Food Safety and Quality Chapter of the new Agricultural Policy Framework (APF). National commodity groups also support the program by contributing staff time, volunteer hours spent by producers, and other administrative resources. The COFFS Program is administered by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA).

How is the COFFS program run?

A national Working Group comprised of representatives from seventeen national commodity organizations meets regularly in Ottawa to develop generic tools and strategies for the design, delivery and implementation of on-farm food safety programs. Representatives from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada attend these meetings to provide technical advice and support. Through the leadership and guidance of this group, national commodity organizations are creating affordable, sustainable and credible on-farm food safety programs. Activities of the Working Group include:

• developing and delivering training courses for on-farm food safety auditors;
• encouraging CFIA to establish an official recognition program;
• developing a system for certifying producers in cooperation with the Standards Council of Canada and CFIA;
• creating a risk management program to address liability issues of producers, organizations and auditors.
• developing communication materials to educate producers and consumers, nationally and internationally about the value of the COFFS program.

Click here for more information on The Canadian On-Farm Food Safety Program.

Click here to visit the Food Safety Network's Website.

Sources: Canadian Federation of Agriculture. An Introduction to on-farm food safety practice. Canadian Federation of Agriculture. The Canadian On-Farm Food Safety Program.


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