CANADA: Secrets unveiled
A friend sent me a batch of information the Canadian Food Inspection Agency released only because somebody had filed an Access-to-Information request.
I learned that
· Maple Leaf Foods Inc. complained that a provincially-inspected meat-packing plant won the contract to supply box lunches for the military, and that the CFIA said that’s ok since the troops live in Ontario where the meat-packing plant in question is under provincial inspection.
· CFIA is reviewing its internal governance because, frankly, it screwed up in responding to the Listeria monocytogenes food-poisoning situation in which 23 Canadians died because they ate Maple Leaf products
· CFIA has hired McMaster University to determine whether Aptamar technology can be used to develop a rapid test for Listeria monocytogenes.
· Maple Leaf wanted the CFIA to use rapid-detection tests available from the U.S. for Listeria monocytogenes so it wouldn’t have to sit on products awaiting test results.
· Canadian meat packers are the most likely ones to complain to the CFIA that imported products fail to meet Canadian labeling requirements.
· Maple Leaf complained that it is not allowed to use the cans that competitors from other countries use to package meats available in Canadian stores. The CFIA replied that we sign trade deals to accept the standards in place in the other countries. The CFIA said it is “taking steps” to level the playing field.
· The CFIA admitted it screwed up when it stopped providing 72 hours notice to importers that their shipments could be subjected to inspection. Trouble is, there were no convenient places near border crossing points to conduct the inspections, unlike the situation in the U.S. where they do have convenient nearby testing facilities. The CFIA apparently jumped to correct gaffes only after the media embarrassed the bureaucrats.
· The Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council complained that the CFIA responses to deads-on-arrival at chicken-processing plants are not the same across all regions of Canada. The CFIA apparently began cracking down in some regions, especially on spent hens, because it wants “to maintain public confidence”. Sounds like a knee-jerk reaction to animal activists.
· The CFIA backed down on a Poultry Rejection Project after unionized veterinarians objected to shifting decisions on how to deal with rejected birds at processing plants from government to company staff.
· The Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council complained about having to meet traceability standards that don’t yet apply to back-yard flocks.
· The CFIA’s top brass has regular meeting with the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council and the Canadian Meat Council. It has also met with executives from Maple Leaf, Nestle, the deans of the five veterinary colleges, the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors and the Retail Council of Canada.
· There is a Canadian Agricultural Review Tribunal to which companies that have been fined by the CFIA can appeal.