An ounce of prevention
By Jim Knisley
May 1, 2009 – There's an old joke that if you want to cut the crime rate in half you fire half the police. If you want to get rid of all crime you fire the judges.
There's an old joke that if you want to cut the crime rate in half you fire half the police. If you want to get rid of all crime you fire the judges.
Of course this doesn't mean that crime has been eliminated, quite the contrary, but it does mean that government can claim that their official records show crime has fallen or been eliminated.
Food safety seems to work the same way.
According to official reports and records Minnesota is a hot bed of sickness caused by food. That state routinely reports more food poisoning than others.
This is because Minnesota has a team of epidemiologists and health care professionals who vigorously and rigorously track disease back to its source. The result is Minnesota finds a lot more health problems caused by tainted food.
Other states don't hire the people or spend the money to do this. The result is people still get sick and doctors treat the ill, but no one has a clue what caused it.
Frequently, people across the U.S. can be getting sick from tainted lettuce or peanuts or something else, but it isn't until someone in Minnesota gets sick that the cause is investigated and revealed.
Up here the situation is different. The CFIA has national authority, but they are dependent upon local, regional and provincial reporting.
A recent report also says that the CFIA should improve the way it works with these other agencies and officials.
There are also disquieting reports that the CFIA plans to focus more of its efforts on dealing with outbreaks of disease and do less on day-to-day operational efforts and inspections. More of that work would be done by the companies themselves.
This would be a continuation of what has been happening for some time with less independent government inspection and more work done in-house.
Interestingly, this is at a time when Michael McCain, head of Maple Leaf Foods is calling for more government oversight and regulation of the food industry.
It also comes at a time when Canada is crowing that its financial institutions are faring better in the current financial meltdown because of our strict regulations on banks.
One would think they'd apply the same rigor to food recognizing that an ounce of prevention is worth of pound of cure.
Or maybe we are going the way of Kentucky where they didn't know they had a tainted peanut problem until Minnesota told them.