Canada: 57 inspectors hired, zero 'dedicated' to meat safety

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None of the 57 federal inspectors hired by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency this year are dedicated to meat inspection, says an agency document obtained by the Star.

That admission, to parliamentary investigators into last summer's listeria outbreak, differs from statements made by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz at the time, critics say.

During the outbreak that took 22 lives, Ritz told Canadians worried about meat quality that inspection reinforcements were on the way. "We are targeting another 58 people to be on the front lines" by March 2009, he said last August.

However, the document obtained by the Star refers only to 57 hires and says "none are dedicated to meat inspection."

The CFIA's Margaret Gourlay said the minister's promise referred to staff hired for a range of activities which was called disingenuous by the union representing federal meat inspectors.


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