Action on Weatherill Report Recommendations to Strengthen the Food Safety System: Final Report to Canadians

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Agriculture Portfolio:
includes Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Codex Alimentarius Commission:
an international body established by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop food standards, guidelines and codes of practice under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme. These are internationally recognized standards, guidelines and codes of practice intended as recommendations which governments can implement to facilitate the export of their countries' products.
Deputy head:
the highest ranking public servant in a federal department or agency, who reports to the Minister. In some federal agencies the position is called President or Commissioner.
DNA fingerprint:
the specific genetic pattern of a pathogen that is used as laboratory evidence for outbreak detection. Health officials can identify clusters of illnesses caused by bacteria with the same fingerprint at the same time, even when cases of illness are spread across many jurisdictions. The DNA fingerprint evidence is also used to link contaminating pathogens in foods to the associated cases of disease.
Environmental sampling:
a method of testing for micro-organisms on surfaces that could come in contact with food in a food processing plant. Swabs are taken from these surfaces and tested in order to determine if any harmful bacteria are present.
Foodborne illness:
an illness caused by eating or drinking a contaminated food or beverage.
Foodborne outbreak:
occurs when two or more people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or beverage.
a branch of biotechnology concerned with applying the techniques of genetics and molecular biology to the genetic mapping and DNA sequencing of sets of genes or the complete genomes of selected organisms, with organizing the results in databases, and with applications of the data.
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point:
an internationally recognized approach to food safety that is designed to assess and control hazards and risks associated with food production.
Health Portfolio:
includes Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
International Health Regulations:
an international legal instrument that is binding on 194 countries across the globe, including all the Member States of the World Health Organization. Their aim is to help the international community prevent and respond to acute public health risks that have the potential to cross borders and threaten people worldwide.
Lead agency:
the agency that has responsibility for the overall management of a foodborne illness outbreak.
scientific classification used to describe seven species of bacteria, including the Listeria monocytogenes species that, of the Listeria group, most frequently causes illness (listeriosis) in humans.
an infection caused by eating food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Those most at risk include elderly patients, pregnant women and patients who have compromised immune systems.
when more than one province, territory or country is affected by a foodborne illness event and is involved in responding to the outbreak.
Novel food:
includes substances that do not have a history of safe use as a food; foods that have been manufactured, prepared, preserved or packaged by a process that has not been previously applied to that food, and causes the food to undergo a major change; and foods that are derived from a plant, animal or micro-organism that has been genetically modified such that the substance no longer exhibits characteristics that had been seen, exhibits new characteristics not previously seen, or one or more characteristics that fall ouside the anticipated range for that substance.
a sudden increase in disease greater than would otherwise be expected, usually caused by a single contaminated source.
microbes such as bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi that cause illness and/or infections in a specific host.
Public health surveillance:
the systematic process of collecting, analyzing, interpreting and communicating data in order to reduce disease rates and mortality. In Canada, surveillance is used to monitor, respond to and prevent human illness, including chronic and infectious disease.
Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis:
the scientific laboratory method used to identify characteristic genetic traits for pathogenic microbes, commonly referred to as "fingerprinting," that can be used as evidence for food safety and public health investigations.
a network of public health and food safety laboratories and agencies that perform DNA fingerprinting and share these pieces of laboratory evidence to support outbreak detection.
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