Canadian Meat Inspectors Told To Ignore Food Safety
The revelation that federal meat inspectors were ordered to ignore carcass contamination at Alberta’s XL Foods plant reverberated on Parliament Hill Thursday, as opposition parties hammered the Conservative government over its handling of the E. coli crisis that sickened 18 people across Canada.
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz is once again under fire, this time over a Canadian Food Inspection Agency memo that instructed beef inspectors at the plant in Brooks, Alta., to ignore visible fecal and intestinal contamination on carcasses being processed for sale to Canadians. The 2008 memo obtained by CTV News ordered inspectors to give extra scrutiny to meat being shipped for sale in Japan, however.
“Our number 1 priority is to ensure this standard is met with Japan eligible carcasses,” said the memo, written by a CFIA meat hygiene supervisor at the plant.
The CFIA reversed that policy only two weeks ago, when it sent a new memo telling inspectors to halt the meat production line and remove any spotted contamination on carcasses. The news exploded in the House of Commons during question period Thursday, as the Conservatives fielded attacks over the CFIA’s 2008 directive. Some called for Ritz’s resignation, saying the minister has repeatedly failed to address food safety issues.
“That minister should have resigned months ago,” said NDP agriculture critic Malcolm Allen.
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