Canadians - Listeria investigator wants to hear from you, or sell you a Sham-Wow
Posted: May 27th, 2009 - 9:14am by Doug Powell
Sheila Weatherill, Independent Investigator, Listeriosis Investigation, Ottawa, Ont., who apparently has an affinity for upper case, writes in the Times & Transcript this morning,
“Help us to help you! Give me your views on listeriosis.”
Oh, OK. I’m still Canadian, so my views are below the italicized questions asked by Weatherill.
Last summer Canadians began asking themselves whether their food was safe. Even though few had heard of it before, the term "listeriosis" became a household word.
Canadians began asking whether their food was safe a long time ago. Like after E. coli O157:H7 killed 19 residents in a London, Ontario, nursing home in 1985. But I understand history is not your strong suit. Or using Google. Listeriosis has been around a long time too.
I believe that ensuring the safety of our food supply is a priority for all of us. As the independent investigator, I feel a strong obligation to find out the facts and make recommendations to protect the health of Canadians.
I believe that with ready-to-eat meat products, the responsibility lies with the processor, not the consumer. Unless Canadians are supposed to start frying their smoked turkey breast.
I am interested in learning:
* How you first learned about the outbreak (e.g. TV, newspaper, radio, word of mouth)?
I first learned from a BS press release from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that contained the weasel words, “There have been no confirmed illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.” ??????Usually, CFIA press releases say there have been no illnesses associated with the product in question, if that is indeed the case. The “confirmed illness” was a wiggle phrase that Canadian media dutifully reported and then went back to sleep.
* How well do you think the crisis was managed? What else do you think should have been done?
Please let me know what you think. You can go to the "Listening to Canadians" link on the investigation website at www.listeriosis-listeriose. investigation-enquete.gc.ca or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My role as investigator ends on July 20, 2009. I hope to hear from you soon. Your opinions do count!
All of us have a duty to help ensure that such a tragedy doesn't happen again.
The crisis was handled poorly. No one –government, Maple Leaf – has provided a full accounting of who knew what when. And Weatherill, your questions suck. Why were nursing homes serving unheated deli meats, a known risk factor for listeriosis – which you may have recently discovered but lots of food science types or readers of newspapers heard about at least 10 years ago. And why are pregnant woman not more explicitly informed of the risks associated with listeriosis and consumption of ready-to-eat foods?