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Meet Anthony Valles, CFIA inspector specialist

Anthony Valles, CFIA inspector specialist

A lot of scientific work happens behind the scenes to verify the safety of the food that ends up on Canadians' plates.

My name is Anthony Valles. In my job as an inspector specialist at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), I get to pull back the curtain on how products make their way from the farm to your fork.

As a lifelong learner, I've found you can become a master of your field by continually acquiring new skills and knowledge. For me, that means sharpening my scientific expertise in areas related to the agri-food, water treatment, and chemical and microbiological industries.

But the learning never stops. From enforcing regulations to managing recalls, my role as an inspector is multifaceted and serves to protect you and your family from food safety risks.

My journey as a trilingual student

I grew up in France and Spain, and immigrated to Canada about 10 years ago. Not long after my arrival, I started my career with the CFIA.

My passion for science dates back to high school. I studied water, environmental, earth and atmospheric sciences and pure, natural and applied sciences. To keep building on this foundation, I ventured into the agriculture, food, fisheries and forestry sectors.

I graduated from Lycée agricole Limoges Les Vaseix and went on to complete my undergraduate studies at La Rochelle Université. In 2003, I was ready to transition from academia to getting hands-on experience in the industry. From working at livestock-processing plants to pharmaceutical and water treatment companies, I eventually made my way to where I am today.

Given my background, I was expecting to face a language barrier when coming to Canada. But through science I found a community that encouraged the continued use of my knowledge and expertise. To my surprise, speaking French, Spanish and English was also a benefit rather than a detriment. In such a diverse and multicultural country, I'm able to connect with a lot of people due to my trilingual status.

Promoting diversity and equity within the workplace is 1 of my personal missions. As an immigrant myself, I appreciate the importance of having different visible and invisible minority groups. Working in a place like New Brunswick with dozens of industries, farmers, and other inspectors, I have been able to meet and work with a multitude of people from many walks of life.

Food, plants, animals: they're all connected

I'm responsible for helping to keep food safe for Canadians, whether it was imported or produced here at home. A big part of my job involves inspecting food products, I also work with industry by providing support and guidance to them on Canadian regulatory requirements that the CFIA enforces.

For example, I verify that producers use specified risk material permits to prevent tissues that may be infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (commonly known as "mad cow" disease) from entering the human food chain, as well as into the animal feed chain.

While working with the Animal Feed Program, I also help to prevent Salmonella spp. exposure in the food chain by monitoring livestock feeds. When feeds contaminated with Salmonella spp. are detected, the Feeds Act and regulations require the processing facility to remove the feed from animal consumption and provide a corrective action plan to reduce the risk of reoccurrence.

Protecting Canadians from food safety hazards is a constant priority. Under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, food businesses must trace the source and destination of their products — one step back and one step forward. By certifying that businesses complete and maintain traceability records and labels, I help to uphold these critical regulations and the integrity of Canada's food chain. Tracking the movement of food, from where it originates to where it ends up, also helps to remove unsafe food from the market as quickly as possible.

When unsafe food enters the market, the CFIA works with the company to inform the public of a recall and confirm affected products are removed from the market. I'm part of this process by managing customer complaints and producing reports that describe the measures taken by the company to control the spread of any food hazards that arise.

Most recently, I've been working with the epidemiology team to minimize the risk of avian influenza, also known as "bird flu". We work diligently to identify premises with affected birds and to promote an effective emergency disease response by communicating with flock owners.

We all have a role to play

Many of the consumer products that come in or out of Canada involve the CFIA in some way. It's rewarding to deliver such critical services by overseeing inspections for all 3 of the agency's business lines: safe food, healthy animals and disease and pest-free plants. No 2 days are alike. Anything from insects, wood, peat moss, seeds, animal feed and food products are on my radar.

Through inspection and enforcement, the CFIA works hard to protect you from food safety risks. Frontline inspectors like me—and many other agency employees—work in different capacities and around the clock to deliver on this vital part of our mandate.

Together, we all help to maintain Canada's world-class food safety system. But did you know, you can also help play a role in keeping foods you eat safe? You can do this by reporting any food-related complaints and concerns and following safe food handling practices in your own kitchen.

Stay informed by checking out our food safety testing bulletin and reports and remember to sign up for recall and safety alerts.

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