Thursday, September 18, 2008

Will The Flyiing Segretti Squadron Shoot Down This Messenger Too?


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.

Which means, in my opinion, that the policies that Stephen Harper's government instituted, at best, did not help prevent the outbreak.

And at worst?

Well, if the filth that led to the blooming of the bugs was facilitated by Mr. Harper taking inspectors out of the plant without appropriate auxillary oversight and sampling such that.....


Would that not mean that Mr. Harper's policies directly contributed to the outbreak that has so far killed 17 people?

I don't know for sure if they even know who he is, but I have to wonder if those frisky fellas in Mr. Harper's 'War Room' who like to smear people so much would think that Donald Segretti is their kind of political 'operative', regardless.
The entire CMAJ editorial is worth the read as the MDs make it clear that, in their opinion, which is based on verifiable facts, Mr. Harper's policies on de-regulation put us at risk in many other public health spheres (again, be forewarned, it's a pdf, but it's not big).


No comments: