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Most food-poisoning cases originate in restaurants, according to study

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OTTAWA - A new food safety report released by the Conference Board of Canada says half or more of all cases of food-borne illnesses in Canada are picked up in restaurants or from other food service providers.

The report also stated that Canadians suffer more often from salmonella, e. coli, campylobacter and yersinia than Americans.

The survey emphasizes that the majority of food consumed by Canadians is safe while pointing out that 8.5 per cent of Canadian adults have experienced a food-borne illness in the last year severe enough to force them to miss work.

“The point is Canada does have a good food safety system, but there is room for improvement along the farm to fork continuum, especially in food services and at the household level,” said Daniel Munro, principle research associate of the study.

Most illnesses are caused by mistakes in the final preparation and handling of food including reheating as well as cross contamination. It is estimated there are 6.8 million cases of food-borne illness annually in Canada.

Part of the problem can be traced to restaurant inspection systems that are seen as too sporadic to have an impact on restaurants’ day-to-day food safety practices.

However, Garth Whyte, president and CEO of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association dismissed the report describing it as "shockingly short on facts."

"This study did not even bother contacting us about what we are doing, and if they had, they would know that there are three government recognized food safety training programs that train tens of thousands food handlers per year," Whyte said.

The report provides a number of recommendations to improve Canada’s food safety system including providing restaurants and other food service providers with timely information and advice on how they can minimize food safety risks.

It also urges governments to build on current consumer awareness initiatives by engaging consumers directly in discussions about food safety in their households.

The report comes on the second day of a two day Canadian Food Summit conference held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

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