CANADA’s food safety in question
Posted: May 25th, 2009 - 4:02pm
Government meat inspectors in Canada's biggest cities would have to work double shifts on a regular basis to complete all the tasks required to make sure operators are complying with food safety rules, according to newly released data from their union.
The agriculture union of the Public Service Alliance of Canada says, on average, each meat inspector in Toronto, Montreal, Greater Vancouver and the Edmonton area is responsible for about five meat facilities.
With this workload, "it's just not possible to verify that safety rules are being followed in Canadian processed meat facilities," said union president Bob Kingston, who is testifying Monday at the special parliamentary probe into last summer's deadly listeriosis outbreak.
Kingston estimates that ready-to-eat meat plants, one of the three types of facilities included in the workload survey, require inspectors to spend an estimated 800 hours a year (out of an estimated 1,900 work hours) to complete all the prescribed tasks under Canada's new inspection system, called Compliance Verification System.
In Toronto, the union has calculated there are 25.5 inspectors responsible for 98 meat processing plants and 19 cold storage facilities. In Montreal, 33.75 inspectors are charged with making sure operators of 138 meat processing plants and 22 cold storage facilities follow food safety protocols, says Kingston.