Ontario authorities have pledged around C$2.7m (US$1.7m) towards the state's integration of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) programme with the current regulatory framework for its 6,300 dairy farms.

Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Brian Coburn commented last week: "This Healthy Futures for Ontario Agriculture project is a key initiative in ensuring our milk and meat supply continues to be the safest and of the highest quality.

"The benefits of this HACCP program will be far-reaching - for Ontario producers, the dairy industry and consumers."

The balance of funding necessary to complete the full implementation of the programme, C$20m, will be funded by the Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) organization, explained Coburn. This group already maintains a Dairy Quality Assurance Program and will instigate a review of all production processes and systems in a bid to identify potential hazards and ways to overcome those.

DFO Chair, Gordon Coukell, explained in a press release: "The Dairy Quality Assurance Program is a very positive step for the dairy industry and DFO is extremely pleased by this significant support from the Ontario government through their Healthy Futures program."

The authorities expect the full programme to be in place by May 2004, by which time all producers will have developed written standard operating procedures for key control points on their farms and defined a corrective action protocol in the event of any problems.

HACCP is an internationally recognized programme by which manufacturers and producers can ensure food safety.