Produce is on sale at Eastern Market where Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Peggy Hamburg, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack came to discuss food safety with local citizens in Washington on July 31, 2009. UPI Photo/Roger L. Wollenberg | License Photo
REGINA, Saskatchewan, June 3 (UPI) -- Denmark, Australia and Britain have the world's safest food systems, while the United States and Canada rank fourth, an international ranking indicates.
Italy, France and Ireland are at the bottom of the international food-safety rankings of 17 countries by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, an international economic organization of 31 countries based in Paris.
Canada nudged up from the No. 5 spot in 2008, earning a "superior" grade in all areas of food safety except "traceability," in which it ranked "poor" alongside the United States, the OECD's Food Safety Performance World Ranking said.
Traceability refers to the recording of processed foods through all steps in the food's production.
This is important if food becomes contaminated and is recalled, officials say. Traceability lets authorities know which foods are safe and which are not, and help determine where the contamination happened, potentially saving millions of dollars in the recall process.
"Canada and the U.S. do not have well-established farm-to-fork traceability systems for any food product," the report states, noting Canada is the only country to earn a lower grade in this area in 2010 than in 2008.
Sylvain Charlebois, the associate director of the University of Regina's public policy graduate school, said Canada's positive bump is partly due to other countries falling behind.
"Basically, Canada has moved up one because some have actually moved down," Charlebois, who conducted the comparative study for the OECD, told the Canwest News Service.