Canada: Report calls for listeria inquiry
of Article: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/653396
need a full public inquiry into the death of 22 Canadians from last
summer's listeria outbreak and increased inspection oversight in meat
plants, a parliamentary investigation has concluded.
two months of hearings, the parliamentary food safety report also found
health authorities lost precious time warning the public because they
were immersed in confusion and "turf wars."
Minister Gerry Ritz, who quickly dismissed calls for a public inquiry
yesterday, did not respond to an interview request.
agreed with the parliamentary food safety subcommittee that a public
inquiry is needed.
have always been inquiries when there have been serious crises in public
health," said Amir Attaran, professor in the faculty of law and
medicine at the University of Ottawa.
had it for tainted blood. We had it for Walkerton. We had it for SARS.
We're obviously going to need it for listeriosis. But Parliament so far
has not managed to push the Conservatives to do that."
a dissenting report yesterday, Conservatives on the subcommittee issued
their own set of recommendations, none of which mention a public inquiry.
of a public inquiry, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced last fall an
independent investigation led by Sheila Weatherill. Her report is to be
completed by next month.
dismiss the $2.7 million investigation for being conducted behind closed
doors without the authority to compel testimony or documents.
investigation is about sweeping it under the rug and not holding anyone
responsible," said Liberal agriculture critic Wayne Easter, a food
safety subcommittee member. "Twenty-two people died here. A public
inquiry needs to get at the issue of responsibility."
from all political stripes agreed infighting between health authorities
delayed listeria alarm bells.
Toronto public health officials first noticed a spike in cases in
mid-July of last year, Canadians weren't warned about the risk until
mid-August as people began dying.
(various health) agencies did not have a consistent approach to public
notification," said Toronto medical officer of health Dr. David
McKeown. "It wasn't clear that people were being guided by the plans
that had been made."
the report doesn't speculate how much earlier Canadians should have been
warned, it suggests health authorities increased the risk to consumers by
pointing fingers rather than blowing whistles.
with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Ontario Ministry of
Health said they were reviewing the report and its recommendations.