Federal investment to help Saskatoon-based food safety group

A roughly $500,000 investment to Saskatoon-based Prairie Diagnostic Services, a non-profit food safety organization, will go towards new testing equipment. Joel Senick / Global News

SASKATOON – A roughly half-million dollar investment by the federal government will go toward making testing more efficient for a Saskatoon-based food safety organization. Prairie Diagnostic Services Inc. (PDS) will receive $549,278 from Ottawa for new equipment to “expand and modernize” its testing efficiency.

The announcement was made Tuesday morning at the University of Saskatchewan’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine.

“With the knowledge gained from the new and more modern equipment, clients such as veterinarians, agriculture, livestock and feed producers and exporters will be better able to ensure Canada’s food safety both domestically and abroad,” said Saskatoon-Humboldt MP Brad Trost, who made the announcement.

Trost added that PDS will now be able to purchase equipment that will be able to provide services relating to bacteriology, toxicology, pathology and food testing.

READ MORE: Saskatoon to be home to new food development centre

“This is science spending, science spending that has real impact on Canadians standards of living,” said Trost to reporters after the announcement.

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“We believe agriculture is a high tech industry and it needs to be supported.”

One person who may benefit from the federal investment is Jenny Fricke, a poultry extension veterinarian in the college. She said the new equipment will shorten turnaround time as she deals with diagnosing bacterial infections, like E. coli and salmonella.

“A delay in treatment can mean additional mortality, additional loss, additional cost to a producer and lost product on the shelf at the end of the day,” said Fricke.

“This will have a two pronged effect: reducing mistakes or inaccurate selection of therapy and … decreasing the time it takes us to make those decisions,” she added.

Trost pointed out that investment, like the one to PDS, shows Canada’s trading partners it’s committed to the quality of the food it produces. This comes amid multiple countries placing trade restrictions on Canadian beef, after mad cow disease was found on an Alberta farm in February.

READ MORE: Alberta beef producers concerned as more countries restrict Canadian beef imports due to BSE

“When Canada says its food is safe, it is safe, because we don’t just cover up our problems,” said Trost when asked about the government’s response to the trade restrictions.

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“We deal with them and we are able to deal with them because we have investments in our world class scientists, in our world class institution, that’s why these investments are critical.”

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