Canada needs independent food inspector: PSAC
The union representing workers with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says the Alberta beef recall is happening because the meat industry is policing itself.
Marianne Hladun, the regional executive vice-president for the Public Service Alliance of Canada for the prairie region, says smaller federal inspection budgets are putting Canadians at risk.
She says the CFIA used to test the meat but now the meat plants must report positive E. coli findings to the CFIA.
“We’re waiting for someone whose main motivation is profit to report something that is going to take away from that profit,” said Hladun, a food inspector from Saskatoon.
She says before, the plant could not ship their meat away before the CFIA got test results back. Now that’s changed. By law, the meat plant must tell inspectors if they find E. coli. Such as the case at the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta., sometimes the findings are reported too late.
The XL Foods voluntary recall shows why the Harper government shouldn't cut funds to food inspection, says Hladun.
“It’s the perfect example of how self-regulation can’t unto itself, protect our food supply,” she said, adding that the country needs a federally-appointed inspector that is independent from the meat industry.
Hladun says their union workers are doing the best they can with what they have.
“It’s the government’s move to move toward self-regulation that is putting the public at risk but it’s also affecting communities,” she said, referring to the area around the XL Foods plant.
The Alberta plant can produce up to 4,000 animals a day. Hladun says now that their licence has been suspended, that’s a huge hit for producers.
“That means they are not investing in their community. They are not buying new farm equipment. They are not looking at purchasing land. They maybe can’t pay the tuition for their child’s university,” she said.
The CFIA said in a health hazard alert released late Monday night that dozens of additional products, including roasts and sausages, have been added to a long list of recalled beef.
The CFIA is warning the public, distributors and food service establishments not to consume, sell, or serve any of the beef products on the list because they may be contaminated with E. coli.
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