Cuts to Canada’s food inspection programs have created a “double standard,” where meat sold to Canadians is not as well inspected than that destined for export, according to the union that represents inspectors.
At a news conference in Edmonton today, Agriculture Union president Bob Kingston said the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) made cuts in January to inspection at meat plants in northern Alberta. The inspections were put in place following a 2008 listeriosis outbreak tied to Maple Leaf products which resulted in 22 deaths.
“If you forget or ignore history, you are bound to repeat grave mistakes,” he said.
He said the CFIA has cut the daily presence of inspectors by 40 per cent — but only in plants that produce meat for the domestic market. The presence of inspectors in plants inspecting for export have stayed the same.
“With available resources that CFIA has, the only way they can meet American inspection standards in order to maintain access to the U.S. market is to shortchange inspection of meat for Canadian consumers,” Kingston said.
“It’s really that simple.”
The news conference was held less than a week after the CFIA announced a recall of chicken products in Western Canada and Ontario over fears of Listeria contamination.