Canada, Ireland and France are the top three countries in overall food safety performance, according to a new report produced by the Conference Board of Canada’s Centre for Food in Canada in collaboration with the University of Guelph’s Food Institute.

“Canada’s excellent grades in most food safety performance metrics were due to its consistently low number of foodborne illness cases and reported recalls, Canada’s new policy on allergen labeling and a greater focus on transparency,” says Jean-Charles Le Vallée, senior research associate and lead author of the “2014 World Ranking Food Safety Performance” report.

The report identified and evaluated common elements among global food safety systems and provided an overall ranking of food safety performance for 17 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The report evaluated food safety using 10 performance indicators in three food safety risk governance domains: assessment, management and communication.

The new report is not the first to compare countries; similar studies were conducted in 2008 and 2010. However, the researchers say the results are not comparable because the indicators and methods have changed.

The report acknowledged each country has its own unique topography, public health challenges, food supply chain capacity and food safety systems. Still, researchers say no matter the differences, each country’s food safety system faces comparable responsibilities to ensure safe food.

“There is also a real need to harmonize standards and protocols among nations. As a result, routine benchmarking evaluation of food safety performances among nations is essential and appropriate as these nations aspire to improve their food safety system preparedness, responsiveness and accountability,” the report states.

According to the board, the study concluded 67 percent of Canadians believe their food is safer than it was five years ago. Despite this, researchers say the country needs to improve its food safety performance which should include more frequent reporting. The report also suggested work needs to be done to better relay information to the public about chemical risks in food consumption and nutrition and dietary studies.

 “Given that our economy is more globalized than ever, understanding other food safety regimes is critical moving forward,” according to the report co-author Dr. Sylvain Charlebois of the University of Guelph’s Food Institute. “Increasingly, more food regulators around the world will compel industry to become more accountable to consumers in order to better mitigate systemic risks.”

While the report mentioned that all countries evaluated had high food safety grades, Canada and Ireland stood out.

The report ranked countries in the following order:

Canada, Ireland, France, the United Kingdom, Norway and the United States (tier 1); Japan, the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark and Austria (tier 2); Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Germany, Italy and Belgium (tier 3).

The entire report is available here: