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Food no safer than pre-listeriosis crisis


November 9, 2010
By The Canadian Press

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Nov. 9, 2010, Ottawa – The union representing federal food inspectors says
Canadians aren't any safer now than they were during the deadly
listeriosis outbreak two years ago.

Nov. 9, 2010 – OTTAWA _ The union representing federal food inspectors says
Canadians aren't any safer now than they were during the deadly
listeriosis outbreak two years ago.

They say that's because the Conservative government still hasn't
implemented all 57 recommendations made by an independent
investigator.

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Chief among the union's concerns is what it says is a lack of
inspectors working in non-slaughter meat plants.

The union says there are fewer inspectors working in meat plants
now than before the listeriosis outbreak.

But the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says that's not the case,
and in fact there are more inspection staff than ever.

The CFIA says it is adding 170 inspectors to its staff, and 150
of them are already hired.

Twenty-three people died and many more got sick after eating meat
traced to a Maple Leaf Foods plant near Toronto.

The outbreak prompted the federal government to strengthen its
food-safety protocols. It's now mandatory for companies to report
all positive listeria findings to the food inspection agency, and
facilities have to test more often for possible contamination.

But union head Bob Kingston says Canadians are still at risk.

"Effectively, this means that consumers are eating high-risk,
'ready-to-eat' foods that may not have been adequately inspected,
produced in factories that may or may not be meeting safety
requirements," he said.

The tainted-meat scandal set off a flurry of probes.

Perhaps the most high profile was an arm's-length investigation
by former Edmonton health chief Sheila Weatherill. Her team spoke to
more than 100 people and amassed some five million pages of
information during a six-month probe and still couldn't answer every
question, such as how many meat inspectors there are in Canada.

The CFIA says it will report back next September on how it has
adopted Weatherill's recommendations.