Leading up to February 11 and 12, 2020, Risk Sciences International had the privilege of assisting Health Canada in its organization of the Country Foods Forum. The event attracted a number of experts in country foods risk assessment from across Canada. Participants and speakers represented a broad cross section of stakeholders ranging from scientists to policy makers. It was crucial to ensure representation by indigenous community members, several of which were scientists and advocates in their own right.
The meeting resulted in three confidential reports currently under review by all parties in the interest of determining next steps in country foods risk assessments.
This information-gathering forum was designed to better understand the current state of country foods-related risk assessment. Its principal mission was to:
- Identify challenges in conducting and reviewing HHRAs for environmental assessment (EA) and contaminated sites (CS) where country foods* consumption exposure pathways are identified
- Examine Health Canada’s HHRA approaches relating to contamination of country foods and identify potential areas of improvement
- Identify where risk assessment methodologies and policy differ between Health Canada programs, including discussion of data gaps and issues that have been observed in HHRA
- Discuss Indigenous use of country foods and how to most appropriately capture considerations in the conduct of HHRA
- Begin development of a consistent risk assessment framework for HHRAs for EA and CS where country foods consumption exposure pathways are identified based on Indigenous health perspectives
- Identify potential risk issues, data sources, policy and program gaps, recommendations and next steps based on feedback from workshop participants