The Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) has created the Canadian Food Safety Fund (CFSF) to support food safety research and education. The areas of focus will include pathogens, regulatory changes and best practices for the produce industry.
“[The fund] will be used to help support what I call the ‘hard science’ around the produce industry in Canada,” says Jeff Hall, food safety specialist at CPMA. “We also want to put together information sessions for our members when regulations change.”
For example, given the upcoming Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, CPMA is hosting safety forums across the country to help members understand the new regulations and how the changes will affect their businesses.
On the research side, CPMA will be asking for submissions from the academic world. It will also look at existing research projects and determine if it makes sense to participate.
CPMA members can also submit research or education proposals.
“Part of the reason for putting this together is by pooling the funds from our members, everybody would then be able to share in the information that comes out at the end,” says Hall. “A small producer in Quebec may have a great idea for a food safety [project], but they’re probably not going to have the capital to do it on their own. This is a way for them to tap into some monies and overall it would be something that would help the industry.”
The CPMA board has provided “starter money” for the fund, says Hall, and then it will be 100% funded by CPMA members. Supporting the fund is not mandatory: CPMA has started a drive with members to build up the fund. Hall declined to say what the fundraising goal is for the first year.
As for long-term outcomes, Hall says, “We’d like to get to a point where we’ve got a stable fund that’s consistent over the years and obviously we want to see results that come out of the work… We also want to be at a point where our membership will say, ‘yes, it has value, here are some things I’ve either learned or been able to apply to my own business.’”