CANADA: Food inspectors union decries planned cuts to meat inspections by federal watchdog
Posted: January 16th, 2012 - 10:18pm
Source: Ottawa Bureau
OTTAWA—The federal food safety watchdog is planning to scale back the frequency of meat inspections and resources dedicated to dealing with listeriosis, according to agency documents.
“Cuts of this magnitude would leave the food safety program reeling and severely diminish an inspector’s ability to complete assignments, and that means risk of another major foodborne illness outbreak will be elevated,” Bob Kingston, president of the Agriculture Union representing federal food inspectors, charged in a news release Monday.
The union pointed to the latest report on planning and priorities from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency released last summer, which says that “resources will sunset for listeriosis, and for increased frequency of food inspection in meat processing establishments”.
The extra resources were put in place in the wake of the deadly nationwide outbreak of listeriosis linked to tainted deli meats from a Maple Leaf Foods plant in Toronto in 2008.
The food-borne illness killed 23 Canadians and sickened hundreds more that summer.
Kingston noted the new plan means the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will spend $21.5 million less and have 234 fewer staff than last year and that most of the cuts are coming from the food safety program.
The union is holding a news conference in Ottawa on Monday, where they will be joined by Karen Clark, whose 89-year-old mother, Frances Clark, died after eating cold cuts contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes at her Belleville-area nursing home in 2008.