About Food Safety

Food Safety controls risks by preventing, reducing or eliminating potential food safety hazards. The On-Farm Food Safety (OFFS) program is a competitive program; therefore, applicants need to be clear and specific about the food safety results their projects will achieve.

Today’s food supply chain is complex and involves many stages and goes through many hands - on farm production, slaughtering and harvesting, processing, storage, transport and distribution - all before food finally reaches the consumer.

Food safety is a shared responsibility between governments, industry, producers, academia and consumers. Everyone along the way has a role to play.

We encourage all eligible businesses, no matter where you are on the food safety spectrum, to apply for program funding!

Interested in some food safety facts?

To achieve a world-class level of food safety, British Columbia (BC) agri-food businesses are taking part in the On-Farm Food Safety (OSSP) Program. This cost-sharing initiative, actively running from October 2018, to February 28th, 2023, can provide your business with up to $10,000 in funding for your food safety system.

More than 200 diseases can be spread through food

1 in 10 people fall ill every year from eating contaminated food, and 420,000+ die each year as a result. The most vulnerable? Children under the age of 5, the elderly and those who are immune-compromised. Proper food preparation and handling can prevent most food borne diseases and the costs associated with a product recall.

Contaminated food can cause long-term health problems

We know the short -term inconvenience food borne illness can cause. Did you know it can also cause organ failure, certain cancers and neurological disorders?

Opportunities for food contamination to take place are very common

Today’s food supply chain is complex, involves many stages, and goes through many hands - on farm production, slaughtering and harvesting, processing, storage, transport and distribution - all before food finally reaches the consumer.

Food contamination affects our economy and our society

Not only is public health affected, food contamination undermines food exports, tourism, jobs and company livelihood as well as economic development, both in developed and developing countries.

What are GAPs?

Farm products are produced and handled under a wide range of conditions, using a variety of farming inputs and technologies (e.g. agricultural chemicals, commercial fertilizers, veterinary drugs, etc.) and on various sizes of farms. Biological, chemical and physical hazards may therefore vary significantly from one operation to another. Each operation will need to consider the GAPs that promote the safety of products, considering the conditions specific to the site. The removing of or killing of pathogens is difficult. Therefore, prevention of microbial contamination at all steps from production to distribution is strongly favoured over treatments to eliminate contamination after it has occurred.

What is HACCP?

For the food and beverage processing industry, and all other food-related industries, food safety is of critical importance. Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) is a systematic and preventive approach to food safety that is the basis of all food safety management systems. It is the most recognized and trusted food safety program in the industry and is globally recognized. It is recommended by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, and the United Nations international standards organization for food safety. Having a functional and certified HACCP system promotes the marketability of your products in the international marketplace. HACCP certification informs your clients that you have a documented, functional and properly managed HACCP Food Safety System that consistently ensures your product safety.

What is PCP?

A Preventive Control Plan (PCP) is a written plan outlining how you ensure that food is safe and fit for consumption and conforms to consumer protection and animal welfare requirements, as applicable. Using preventive controls to prevent, eliminate or reduce hazards associated with food products to an acceptable level is an internationally accepted approach based on the CODEX Alimentarius General Principles of Food Hygiene.

Benefits of Implementing a HACCP-Based Program

There are several benefits to be gained by implementing a HACCP-based system:

  • HACCP is globally recognized as a proven; food safety system and is the global basis for many other certifications.
  • The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) requires processors in some sectors to be HACCP certified.
  • Many buyers will only do business with HACCP certified companies.
  • HACCP certification is almost always required for export.
  • Your business is at a competitive disadvantage if you are not HACCP certified.

Click here for a list of the OFFS recognized certifications.