Firm listeria testing rules released

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By Sarah Schmidt, Canwest News ServiceFebruary 27, 2009 12:02 PM


OTTAWA The Canadian Food Inspection Agency on Friday unveiled tougher listeria testing rules for ready-to-eat meat plants in the wake of a listeriosis outbreak linked to the death of 20 Canadians.

As of April 1, operators producing deli meat must begin testing food-contact surfaces and must look for trends in the results to catch potential problems. All positive tests must be reported immediately to agency inspectors.

Operators will also be required to test meat products for possible listeria contamination at least six times a year.

As well, inspectors will increase the frequency of their own monitoring tests.

The agency announced the new rules after a deadly listeriosis outbreak last summer was traced back to ready-to-eat meats produced at a Maple Leaf Foods plant in Toronto.

The company discovered listeria building up "deep inside" two slicing machines was the most likely source.

The new rules only apply to federally registered meat plants, which can sell their products throughout Canada.

Provincially registered plants, barred from interprovincial trade, operate under different standards set by provinces.



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