Food safety overhaul recommended by Canadian ag committee

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By Ann Bagel Storck on 6/19/2009


In the wake of last summer's listeriosis outbreak connected to Maple Leaf Foods deli meats, a report from the House of Commons agriculture committee calls for a number of significant changes to Canada's food safety system.

Recommendations include harmonizing food safety standards in provincial and federal food plants; establishing an ongoing federal review of Canada's food safety standards; and cooperation between the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the food safety inspectors' union to provide "accurate, real-time evaluation" of inspectors' resources.

A statement from Toronto-based Maple Leaf indicated support for many of the recommendations.

"As a result of our responsibility for the listeria tragedy we had to improve, we did and we will continuously," said Maple Leaf President and CEO Michael McCain. "We have implemented food safety protocols based on global best practices in extensive testing, training and technology. Maple Leaf will continue to take an advocacy role in the pursuit of improved practices across the industry, freely sharing our lessons learned and new approaches to food safety."

Independent investigator Sheila Weatherill is due to present her findings about the crisis to Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz next month.

The listeriosis outbreak led to the deaths of 22 people and the recall of hundreds of products.


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