New food regulations could cost jobs, companies warn
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is changing how food labels are approved and inspected, which means consumers will be putting more trust in food processors, according to one industry expert.
The change is a part of the deregulation of food packaging announced in this year's federal budget bill.
Some farmers and food processing companies in Windsor-Essex, Ont. are concerned about losing business and jobs.
Keith Warriner is a professor at the University of Guelph's Food Science department and is the director of the school's Food Safety and Quality Assurance Program.
"Essentially what they're doing is giving the responsibility to the industry to police itself. They expect us as consumers to actually go and do the job of the CFIA," said Warriner.
The CFIA's funding was slashed in the 2012 budget, but officials said that won't affect safety standards.
"It is important to note that the CFIA is not reducing the number of front-line inspectors or activities aimed at verifying the accuracy of labels in the marketplace," said CFIA media relations officer Guy Gravelle in an email to CBC News.
"Inspectors will continue to check labelling and advertising through a range of activities, including investigations into complaints, facility and retail inspections and laboratory testing."
The deregulation of product sizes in Canada isn't being embraced by the food packaging industry.
"Economically it could put Canada at a disadvantage because in Canada we have set sizes to prevent people from making it look like it's a four-size pack when you're filling it with not so much product," said Warriner.
He cautions consumers pay closer attention to food labelling, product sizes and health claims.
"Producers may produce smaller quantities, but looking at the same pack size and all these claims of natural and organic will start coming through because there's no one to stop them," said Warriner.
The CFIA said it's creating a new online tool which should reduce the need for the current label pre-approval process. The system should be ready by 2015.