Backgrounder: Government of Canada establishes centre for food virology

The Government of Canada has established the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Food Virology National Reference Centre. The Centre will further enhance Canada's ability to effectively detect viral contaminants in food, such as noroviruses and hepatitis A.

Over the next five years, the CFIA will continue to improve its laboratory services in St. Hyacinthe by modernising its facilities and equipment as well as conducting research and developing new methods of detection. Additionally, the laboratory has been increasing professional and technical staff and is developing advanced technologies for food surveillance.

The Food Virology National Reference Centre will:

  • Develop strategies to detect, quantify and characterize foodborne viruses in complex food conditions;
  • Study foodborne, emerging and zoonotic viruses in the food chain;
  • Research viral indicators to assess food and water safety;
  • Evaluate prevention approaches, risk mitigation and analyses; and
  • Provide testing services and scientific advice on potential foodborne contamination.

Working in partnership with Génome Québec, the Food Virology National Reference Centre will develop genomics-based analytical methods for pathogen detection and epidemiological support. The collaborative expertise of Génome Québec and the CFIA will support increased efficiency when tracing sources of food contamination, which will enhance Canada's ability to effectively detect and respond to food safety hazards.

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