faults inspection process in Quebec listeria outbreak
of Article: http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2009/06/02/cheese-listeria.html
Last Updated: Tuesday, June 2, 2009 | 3:20 PM ET
The Quebec government was ill-prepared to handle the outbreak of listeria
contamination in some cheese products last summer, but it was right to
order a mass recall of the cheeses, according to the provincial ombudsman.
Raymonde Saint-Germain tabled her report in the national assembly
The contamination sickened more than 30 people, and health officials
blame two deaths on the tainted cheese.
Saint-Germain said inspection norms were not strict enough prior to the
listeria outbreak, and, in one case, a cheese producer hadn't been visited
by provincial inspectors for three years.
But, Saint-Germain said, the government's controversial decision to
order the widespread destruction of cheese was the right move.
"There was cross-contamination between different cheeses, and also
between cheeses and other food products. So, there was no choice. They had
to recall and massively destroy the cheeses recalled," she said.
During the outbreak, the Agriculture Ministry searched more than 300
businesses, and seized and destroyed thousands of kilograms of cheese
suspected of being contaminated with the potentially deadly listeriosis
Cheese producers and retailers accused the government of overreacting
and demanded compensation for tens of thousands of dollars in financial
losses, which the province has refused on the grounds it was protecting
public health and safety.
Saint-Germain is recommending compensation for a limited number of
cheese makers who she said were named and faced financial losses even
though there was no evidence of contamination in their facilities.