The funding was revealed yesterday by federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board Chuck Strahl and Alberta Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development Doug Horner.
The funding will support Alberta HACCP Advantage (AHA!), a food safety initiative to help the food processing industry maintain its high standards in safety and quality. The initiative focuses on implementation to support the adoption of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)-based systems in the sector and outreach to raise awareness of food safety issues through various learning activities and pilot projects.
"The Canadian agri-food sector shows great innovation in meeting the needs of an evolving marketplace," said Strahl. "Canada is a world leader in safe, high-quality food production and we are proud to be working with the government of Alberta on this important initiative."
AHA! is a provincial government program designed to provide a framework for non-federally registered food processors to implement an Alberta-recognized HACCP standard.
Horner observed, "Alberta already produces some of the safest food in the world. Adopting these HACCP-based systems will further consumer confidence in food produced in Alberta and open markets for Alberta food products. Our stakeholders have told us that this is a top priority for them and we're pleased to be able to take action."
Alberta's agriculture industry continues to flourish, especially in the production of value-added agricultural products, the government announcement stated. The value of shipments of manufactured food and beverage products totaled $10 billion in 2004. Currently there are more than 853 food-processing firms in Alberta employing 25,800 Albertans.
While HACCP is the standard that will be officially recognized by the Government of Alberta, federal funding will also be available to support processors to implement some alternative food safety standards, such as Good Manufacturing Practices and ISO 22000 systems.