Consumer protection

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has systems in place to reduce the risk of contaminated meat being sold to customers, including meat inspection, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) certification, as well as food recalls and emergency response to food safety issues. The effectiveness of these systems is questionable. For example, on May 2, 2008 the CFIA announced a voluntary food recall of ground beef contaminated with e-coli 0157- a recall concerning meat that was sold by a major retail chain throughout Canada two months earlier. In 2008, 20 Canadians died as a result of eating cold cuts contaminated by listeria monocytogenes produced by a federally inspected Maple Leaf in Toronto.

When it comes to foodborne illness, such as salmonella, camplyobacter, listeria and e. coli 0157, the Canadian government’s strategy is to work in partnership with the meat industry to make it the responsibility of consumers to ensure that their meat is fully cooked and that cooking surfaces are adequately cleaned after use. Few demands are made of industry to identify the source of food safety issues and reform the systemic habits that threaten food safety. It appears that rather than using the precautionary principle to guarantee our food is safe and healthy, we are simply risk managing.

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