On March 18 and 19, 2014, the Conference Board of Canada unveiled the Canadian Food Strategy at the 3rd Canadian Food Summit held in Toronto, Canada.

It has been long recognized that change in the Canadian food system is necessary in order to grow the Canadian food market and to meet the everyday food needs of Canadians. The Conference Board of Canada, an independent, not-for-profit research organization in Canada, set out to establish a blueprint for change to the Canadian food system. This blueprint for change was designed to guide and stimulate change in food and the food system in Canada. The result was the Canadian Food Strategy; a comprehensive and action-oriented framework for changes in all areas of the Canadian food system.

The Food Strategy contains five key elements: Industry Prosperity, Healthy Food, Food Safety, Household Food Security and Environmental Sustainability. Within the key elements, the Food Strategy proposes eight goals with over 60 desired outcomes and numerous proposed action strategies to meet the specified goals.

The plenary sessions provided an introduction and overview of the various elements of the Canadian Food Strategy, as well as the implementation of a national food strategy, with an international perspective on best practices. The plenary sessions included panels with experts speaking on a wide range of topics, from tackling childhood obesity, physical inactivity and hunger, to developing Canada’s food export and trade.

The conference also provided attendees with the opportunity to choose concurrent sessions on various topics under the five key elements of the Food Strategy. Of particular note was the session on modernizing Canada’s food regulatory system, which focused on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Safe Food for Canadians Action Plan. This action plan, guided by the Safe Foods for Canadians Act passed in November 2012, aims to strengthen Canada’s world-class food safety system by implementing stronger food safety rules, improve and streamline the food inspection model, improve the safety and labelling of imported foods, and impose administrative monetary penalties for offences under the Act. The Safe Foods for Canadians Act is not yet in force. The draft regulations under the Act are currently undergoing revisions. The Safe Foods for Canadians Act is expected to come into force, along with the regulations, in the summer of 2015.