Over the past half century, the roster of harmful microscopic offenders that scientists blame for sickening people via food has expanded from about 50 key bugs to 250. Experts also know that food-borne illnesses are the largest class of emerging disease in Canada and that about 35,000 Canadians get sick each day from ingesting them. They struggle, though, to explain why this occurs or how to prevent it.
A unique new graduate program in food safety announced on Friday at the McGill University is an effort to change that. Anchored by a $1.5-million gift from renowned Canadian toxicologist Ian C. Munro and his wife, Jayne, the program will attempt to bridge the gaps between government and industry research on the factors that influence the safety and quality of the food supply.
“They wanted a neutral, independent place where they could come for third-party advice,” Dr. Chandra A. Madramootoo, dean of McGill’s Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said of the university’s industry partners. He said the program has been in the works since 2006 as a “response to the lack of sustained, long-term dedicated research by the government” on practical food safety matters.