None are assigned to meat plants despite Canada's deadly listeriosis crisis and promises made by the federal agricultural minister.
Ottawa (11 June 2009) - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has hired 57 new inspectors but none are dedicated to front-line meat inspection despite 22 deaths resulting from Canada's listeriosis crisis and promises made by federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.
In information prepared for parliamentarians probing the state of food safety in Canada, the CFIA says some of the new inspectors are working on the implementation of Product of Canada labelling guidelines while others are conducting border blitzes for "high-risk commodities."
Still others hired under the federal government's Food Safety Action Plan are sampling and testing high-risk foods, completing laboratory method validation studies for high-risk commodities or designing an enhanced identification system for food manufacturers.
"Of these 57 full-time resources, none are dedicated to meat inspection," says the briefing note, tabled this week in Parliament
When Ritz announced the new positions last August – after a definitive link was made between tainted meat produced at a Maple Leaf plant in Toronto and the deaths of 22 Canadians – he said the government was "targeting" additional inspectors to "be on the front lines."
Opposition critics have accused Ritz of going back on his word. The minister has since issued a statement saying that there was "no discrepancy" because all inspectors are considered "front-line."
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