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The threat to food inspection in Canada is no joke. In the summer of 2008, 22 Canadians died after eating Maple Leaf cold cuts tainted with listeria. Dozens more were left seriously ill.
A federal investigation would later determine that in the years leading up to the listeriosis outbreak, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) was not conducting mandatory safety audits at the Maple Leaf Foods plant that produced the tainted meat.
The same flawed meat inspection system is still in place today, continuing to rely on the meat industry to police itself. That means inspectors spend more time reviewing the industry's own reports and test results than doing independent hands-on inspection. Some improvements have been made, but there are still too few inspectors covering too many facilities, making it impossible to verify that all of the meat processing facilities are following the rules that keep Canadians safe.
The federal government is planning to cut between 5 and 10 per cent from every department and program. This includes food safety and meat inspection.
"A safe food supply should be non-negotiable," says John Gordon, National President of Public Service Alliance of Canada. "The Harper government's proposed cuts aren't just absurd, they are extremely dangerous."
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