Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Stephen Harper Government...Listeriosis 'R Us.


That was then:
...The Canadian Medical Association Journal (ie. a journal published by real doctors) has just published an editorial that places the de-regulation ethos at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency squarely in the lap of Mr. Stephen Harper's government (warning: pdf):

Last November (2007) the Canadian government instituted a strategic review of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Among its outcomes was to transfer inspection duties for ready-to-eat meats from the government inspectors to the meat industry. Cabinet decided to “shift from full-time CFIA meat inspection presence to an oversight role, [thereby] allowing industry to implement food safety control programs and to manage key risks.”

In practice, the new policy meant that CFIA inspectors would rarely enter meat plants to test for bacteria and testing was left mostly to companies. Self-inspection came largely to substitute for, and not just to supplement, government inspection. Self-inspection mechanisms have worked effectively in other countries, but in Canada something went very wrong. One troubling sign is that even now, months after the policy change, the CFIA’s required sampling procedure remains under development.....


Here's the thing, when it comes to listeria outbreaks, because that is what the CMAJ is focussing on here.

They are most definitely not caused by by anything as exotic as a superbug-like
Andromeda Strain that requires people to run around in hermetically-sealed hazmat suits.

Instead, they are caused by a run-of-the-mill gram-positive bacillus (bacteria) that, in the case of the recent outbreak, apparently bloomed within filthy meat cutting machines that were not being cleaned properly by a company that was "self-regulating" sans government inspectors.

That was thenner:
....Despite the unarguable proof that it was his government's policy change that led to the removal of Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspectors from meat processing plants, Mr. Stephen Harper implied earlier this week that the listeriosis outbreak was the fault of the previous Liberal government and that it was his government that was actually the proactiveone:

The Conservative leader (Mr. Harper) insisted his government has already taken action by modernizing the inspection system and hiring 200 new inspectors and will conduct a "comprehensive" inquiry into the listeriosis outbreak.

"We are aware of deficiencies, and that's why we're acting and investing, both putting money [into the system] and looking very carefully at our processes as we go forward," he said.

"The previous (Liberal) government was aware of some of these deficiencies, [but] they didn't act. We have been acting."

This is unadulterated codswallop.

And it should be Mr. Harper's
'Brownie, you're doin' a heckuva job' moment.

In other words, he should wear this for now and forever after, because this so-called 'frenzy of inspector-hiring' came after.....

After people started getting sick.....

And after people started dieing......

And before all that, the common and easy to disinfect listeria bacilli began blooming deep within the bowels of those meatcutters in that processing plant which no longer received visits from CFIA inspectors because of an overt, and demonstrable, policy change instituted by the government of Mr. Stephen Harper.

No ifs.

No ands.

And no buts.

No matter how much he obfuscates.

This is now:

..."The federal government plans to cut the additional inspectors who were stationed at meat plants across the country after the Maple Leaf listeriosis outbreak killed 23 Canadians in 2008.

A recent report by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says “resources will sunset for listeriosis and for increased frequency of food inspection in meat processing establishments” at the end of the current fiscal year..."

Thanks to reader Grant G for the tip.


Grant G said...

No Ross K...Thank you for laying out, I`ve been a little busy.


West End Bob said...

And no buts.

Not even pork butts, RossK? Damn!

Guess the next time there's a meat bug break-out harperco will again have to reach WAY back to the former Liberal government, huh?

That's gonna be quite a s t r e t c h, even for them . . . .