Health officers considering cold shoulder for cold cuts

Last Updated: Thursday, September 4, 2008 | 10:49 AM ET

CBC News


Source of Article:


In the wake of a massive listeria outbreak believed to have killed 13 Canadians, provincial chief health officers have been talking about taking deli meats off the menus of health institutions.

'The bugs are all around us. We can't get away from these.' Dr. Subash Sad, National Research Council

The listeria was in luncheon meats processed at a Maple Leaf plant in Toronto and distributed across the country. The recall began with one product Aug. 17, and eventually expanded to include hundreds.

The contamination and the resulting deaths have led health officers across the country to reconsider a 2005 recommendation from Health Canada that deli meats not be served to people with compromised immune systems. That recommendation has not been implemented, as has a similar one regarding unpasteurized dairy products.

Since the recall, provincial chief health officers have had two conference calls on the issue.

"Deli meats are quite controversial and from what we can find out at this stage no province has put out an overall ban on deli meats in institutions," P.E.I. deputy chief health officer Dr. Lamont Sweet told CBC News Wednesday.

Dr. Lamont Sweet said provinces have yet to decide on an outright ban. (CBC)

"We'll find out more in the next teleconference, because the whole issue is going to be discussed and we'll get more information on that."

Some of the Canadians who got sick with listeriosis from the tainted meat ate the food in hospital or in long-term-care facilities.

Dr. Subash Sad, a microbiologist with the National Research Council of Canada, is convinced there is little to discuss in getting the meats out of health institutions, and that it should have been done some time ago.

Further illness, he said, is inevitable.

"It's not a question of if that will happen, but a question when. The bugs are all around us. We can't get away from these," said Sad.

"Especially nowadays they can be stored for a long time. We want to have the convenience of keeping the food for a longer time."

Sweet said it is too early to say if a decision will be made to ban the meats.


Main Page

setstatsCopyright (C) All rights reserved under

If you have any comments, please  send your email to