Canadian PM: Food inspection system needs revamping

Published 27 August 2008

Listeriosis outbreak in Canada claims 29 lives and dozens rushed to hospitals; Toronto area meat processors recalls $2 million worth of contaminated meat; PM says food inspection should be tightened

Canada’s listeriosis outbreak is a tragic example of why the food inspection system should be revamped, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said yesterday as he spoke publicly about the crisis for the first time, offering condolences to those whose loved ones have died or fallen ill. In Ontario — home to all six deaths conclusively linked to the outbreak, and a province which is no stranger to serious health crises — Health Minister David Caplan expressed concern about reports the federal Tories intend to allow the food industry to police itself.

The outbreak, which has been linked to meat products recalled by Maple Leaf Foods (see HS Daily Wire 22 August 2008 story), shows why Ottawa needs to act, Harper said during a news conference in Ottawa. “This is a serious concern. That’s why I indicated … that it’s necessary to reform and revamp our food and product inspection regimes.”

An additional nine deaths across Canada — six in Ontario and one each in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Quebec — remain under investigation for possible links to the outbreak. Two new confirmed cases in Ontario and one more in Quebec have brought the total of known cases with a definitive link to the outbreak to twenty-nine.