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Have your say: What's the best way to keep our food safe? Add to ...

Craig and Marc Kielburger, founders of Free The Children and Me to We, seek solutions to significant social problems. In their bi-weekly Brain Storm column they explore issues, soliciting informed opinions or new ideas from experts, then throwing open the discussion to Globe readers.

This week’s question: How can we better ensure the safety of our food?

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When we were younger, our parents wouldn’t bite when we claimed that supper “tastes funny” – our transparent attempt to elude meatloaf surprise.

Nowadays, parents hearing these words are more likely to toss the whole plate into the garbage. The massive recall of beef products from Alberta’s XL Foods is just the latest in a series of recent food scares, including the listeria outbreak from deli meats that killed 22 people across Canada in 2008. In the past three months, not including XL Foods, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued 26 separate health warnings about potential salmonella and listeria in food on the Canadian market.

If we can’t interrogate our salad or grill our steak verbally, can we truly trust what’s on our plates?

We turned to the experts for their thoughts, but we’d like to hear from you, too. Add your comments or send us your thoughts. Selected contributions will be published in the November 2 print edition of The Globe and Mail.

The experts:

Bill Jeffery, Canadian Coordinator, International Association of Consumer Food Organizations

“The federal government is [well-] suited to help curb nutrition-related diseases. It should regulate the amount of salt and hydrogenated oils used by food manufacturers; restrict commercial marketing to children; require key nutrition information on menus at outlets of large restaurant chains; and shift GST from nutritious foods like vegetables and whole grains to non-nutritious foods with high fat and sugar contents.”

Chef Jonathan Chovancek, CBC’s Village on a Diet and Chef/Owner of Kale & Nori Culinary Arts

“Did your hamburger come from a giant industrialized food-processing plant that races through thousands of animals a day, or was it slaughtered and processed by journeymen who have the care and knowledge to provide us with superior food? We need more local abattoirs to stop the homogenization of our food industry. And we need consumers to support our local farms, eat in season, and do our research to find out who is raising and growing the food we want to eat in our area.”

Dr. Kevin Allen, associate professor of food microbiology, University of British Columbia

“I think this is a good opportunity for consumers to understand that they have a role in food safety. Consumers need to actively minimize cross-contamination in their kitchens by thoroughly washing hands and cooking tools used for raw meats, and using cooking thermometers to ensure the internal heat is sufficient to inactivate pathogens. All those rules about colour, firmness, etc. that our parents used to rely on are not valid.”

Have your say in the comment section.

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