How Safe is Our Food?

Manitoba's food supply is among the safest in the world. Many steps from production to the grocery store ensure this safety.

For example:

  • Inspected plants, each cow, pig or lamb is inspected prior to and following slaughter for signs of disease or improper use of veterinary drugs.
  • Thousands of domestic and imported food product samples are tested for pesticide, antibiotic and sulfa drug residues, hormones and heavy metals. In 2002, 99 percent of these samples of dairy products, meats and poultry, eggs, fruits and vegetables, honey and maple syrup were found to be in compliance with the standards.
  • All pesticides sold in Canada are registered and their use and labelling controlled by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency. Registration of a pesticide is renewed every five years but can be cancelled at any time if a safety hazard is suspected.
  • Every truckload of milk is tested for antibiotics when brought to dairies.
  • Public health inspectors with the Manitoba Conservation inspects restaurants, meat processing plants, retail food stores, mobile canteens, caterers and food service areas of hospitals and personal care homes to ensure high standards of sanitation are met.

Food Safety at Home

How foods are handled in the home, affects their safety. Poor food handling practices or storage methods can cause food-borne illness. Health Canada estimates that there are 2.2 million cases of food-borne illness every year.

For every reported case of food poisoning, it is estimated that 350 cases go unreported. The symptoms of food-borne illness are the same for the flu, stomach cramps, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, etc. As a result, many Manitobans may blame these symptoms on the flu instead of food-borne illness.

Helpful Tips in Food Handling

  • Separate raw meats, poultry and eggs from other foods that will be eaten raw (such as salads) or foods that are not reheated;
  • Chill perishable foods within 2 hours of preparation;
  • Carry meats to and from the barbecue on clean plates;
  • Use a thermometer to ensure foods are cooked to recommended temperature;
  • Wash hands, utensils, cutting boards and work surfaces before, during and after handling raw meat or poultry.

Most food poisoning bacteria are odourless, tasteless and colorless.
Take care to protect yourself against foodborne illness.

Food Safety Questions and Answers

1. Every truck load of milk is tested for the presence of antibiotics.
True _____ False _____
TRUE - If antibiotics are found the milk is disposed and does not enter the food chain.
2. Modern farming practices increase the cost of foods.
True _____ False _____
FALSE – Practices such as fertilizer use, feed supplements, etc., increase efficiency and decrease the cost to the consumer. Outside of the U.S.A., Canadians spend a smaller percentage of their personal disposable income (10.6%) on food than anywhere in the world.
3. Fruit and vegetables are tested for pesticide residues?
True _____ False _____
TRUE - In 2001 and 2002 more than 12,000 samples were tested and 99% were in compliance with the maximum residue levels set out in the Food and Drug Regulations.
4. Everyone is at risk to the dangers of raw milk.
True _____ False _____
TRUE - Farmers or rural people are not immune to the dangers. Infants, pregnant women, the elderly and those with chronic diseases are especially at risk. There are more than 50 disease-causing bacterial that may be found in raw milk including Yersinia, Listeria, E. -coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter.
5. Environmental pollutants cause 25 per cent of cancer cases.
True _____ False _____
FALSE - Environmental pollutants such as lead, mercury and dioxins cause only 2 per cent of cancers. Most cancers are caused by smoking, alcohol and exposure to the sun's harmful rays.
6. Our bodies respond differently to natural and man-made substances.
True _____ False _____
FALSE - All food is made up of chemicals in different combinations. Our bodies cannot tell the origin of a chemical. Living cells are not conscious units able to decide whether chemicals that enter the body are natural or man-made.
7. Consumers can reduce their risk of developing cancer by changing their diet.
True _____ False _____
TRUE - Diets low in fat, high in fibre, and those rich in beta carotene (Vitamin A: carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cantaloupes) are associated with a reduced risk of cancer.
8. Food poisoning caused by improper food handling costs Canadians one million dollars per year.
True _____ False _____
FALSE - Food poisoning is estimated to cost Canadians one billion dollars a year in medical and legal fees, lost wages, etc.

For further information contact a MAFRD GO Team Office or Centre.

Prepared By:

Lynda Lowry
Food Product Commercialization Specialist