Policy Development and Methodology Section

The Policy Development and Methodology Section has two distinct roles. One is the development of effective food safety policy to address bacterial, viral and parasitic hazards. The other is the rigorous screening of new microbiological laboratory methods for publication in the Compendium of Analytical Methods. These approved methods are used by Health Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, other agencies and the food industry.

Activities of the Policy Development and Methodology Section include:

  • Providing guidance and direction for food safety policy regarding microbiological hazards;
  • Amending and developing Canadian food standards and guidelines that are consistent with Codex Alimentarius;
  • Evaluating and maintaining acceptable methods for the isolation, identification and enumeration of foodborne pathogens for compliance action by the Canadian Government;
  • Working collaboratively with other government departments including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, other governments, academia and the food industry in developing and promoting the best food safety education material possible; and
  • Identifying the most practical and effective interventions for foods that pose a risk of foodborne illness.

More Information on Policy Development

What is food safety policy?

A food safety policy is a published Food Directorate position that outlines the way a specific food safety risk will be managed, and provides an explanation for the approach. Management of the food safety risk may involve one or more of the following regulatory or non-regulatory options: education, codes of practice, standards, guidelines, and others.

How are policies developed?

Health Canada has published a Decision-Making Framework to provide a common, general basis for risk management decision-making. The Framework has a series of steps that can be grouped into three phases: issue identification, risk assessment and risk management. Risk management involves identifying and analyzing options, selecting a strategy, implementing the strategy and monitoring and evaluating the results. The Food Directorate has developed an internal reference manual, which outlines the processes and parties involved in food safety and nutrition policy development.

Collaboration and Consultation

The Microbiology Research Division, Microbial Risk Assessment Section and Analytical Methods support the development of effective and sound policies. Extensive consultation takes place during the development of a policy, and representatives from various organizations within Health Canada as well as from other organizations, such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, are included in the process. Experts within the federal, provincial and territorial governments, academia, international experts, food processors and industry associations as well as consumer and special interest groups and the general public are consulted throughout the process.

Education

Providing information to farmers, food processors, retailers, and consumers is often a critical part of food safety policies. The Evaluation Division develops food safety information for consumers and industry. Information can be in the form of Codes of Practice, Guidelines, food safety articles or fact sheets like the ones in the Food-related Illnesses section of this website.

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