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Safe food starts on the farm
Food and water are basic necessities for life. Access to safe, quality, affordable food choices is something most Canadians don’t have to think about very often. Grocery stores and farmers’ markets are never empty, and we rarely worry about the safety of our food because we expect it to be safe. Regardless, a food safety scare is alarming to everyone, including farmers and those responsible for getting food to your table.
Let’s look at what happens behind the scenes to get safe food from Canadian farms to dinner plates.
Canada is respected around the
world for the quality and safety of our food. Regulations and safety systems throughout the food production process are the checks and balances that ensure safe food starts on the farm.
Food and farming organizations, farmers, and government have developed best management practices and protocols like HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) to help farmers produce safe food, while minimizing risks and problems.
On-farm food safety programs identify critical points where food safety could be at risk, such as when a new animal
is brought onto the farm, or when fresh produce is packed into bins. These same
A milk truck picking up milk from a dairy farm
Theo Elshof
30 The Real Dirt on Farming
principles are also applied throughout the food chain, including at the mills that prepare animal feed, at food processing facilities, and even at your local grocery store.
Participating in these programs means farmers evaluate their practices, keeping records of what is done on the farm and having those records – and their farms – veri ed regularly by a third party. Part of the program includes what to do if problems do arise, and how to take steps to con ne problems, for example.
While each program is different depending on farm type, the principles of producing safe food are the same.
Inspector checking meat quality
Pro le
Cal & Cathy Penner
Second generation farmers Cal and Cathy Penner raise pigs and grow soybeans, wheat and canola in southern Manitoba. They farm with their son Eric, as well as Cal’s parents Vern and Martha Penner. The family is particularly interested in genetics, and harness their interest to produce higher quality and healthier pigs. They are also involved in helping their community, and in 2016, were named “Farm Family of the Year” by their local agricultural organization.
“The health and well-being of the hogs is  rst and foremost to us. We have a passion for farming, the animals, and the challenges owning your own business can bring”. (Cal Penner)
Cathy & Cal Penner with their children Nikki & Eric

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