Canada scores high in food safety
… But Conference Board of Canada report awards just a C+ on environmental sustainability.
OTTAWA — When it comes to food, Canada performs well in safety, security and healthy choices and diets, but its performance is weaker in industry prosperity and environmental sustainability, says a Conference Board of Canada report.
The Canadian Food Observatory’s first annual report card on food by the Ottawa-based research firm assesses Canada’s food and beverage sector performance based on 43 food performance metrics tied to the five areas of focus outlined in the Canadian Food Strategy against 16 OECD countries.
Canada gets an “A” for food safety; a “B” for food security and healthy foods and diets; a “B-” for industry prosperity; and a “C+” in environmental sustainability.
The Conference Board notes all countries have very high food safety standards, but Canada (along with Ireland) is an excellent performer, but work remains to improve reporting on chemical risks in food consumption, more frequent nutrition and dietary studies, and additional improvements to traceability and radionuclide standards.
Access to and use of safe, nutritious and affordable food remains a broad concern as some 4 million Canadians are affected by food insecurity due to economic constraints, natural hazards such as floods and droughts, rising animal feed and other food costs.
Canada’s performance in Healthy Foods and Diets this area is helped by lower than average intake levels of salt and saturated fats, along with a diverse diet (higher share of non-starchy foods in diet) and moderate food literacy levels. However, somewhat weaker results for prevalence of diabetes, obesity and excess food acquisition hinder the country’s overall performance in this domain.
Canada punches below its weight in food innovation, product market regulation, livestock production, and representation among leading global food companies. Conversely, Canada’s strengths are in its resource endowments, farm capitalization, crop production and economic viability.
Canada gets its lowest grade on environmental sustainability, which considers impacts such as food waste, water withdrawals, air quality, soil health, and seafood sustainability. Canada has higher rates of both household food waste and food losses before and after purchases. With rising rates of greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions, Canada also ranks last in these two measures. Canada performs strongly in soil health while work remains on improving its seafood sustainability performance.