Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Feds deny two-tiered inspection system
Same standards for beef exports as domestic use
OTTAWA -- The Conservative government is refuting opposition claims Canada has a "two-tiered" food inspection system that puts the quality of beef exports ahead of meat consumed at home.
A memo from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to its employees at the XL Foods processing plant in Brooks, Alta., instructed some inspectors to ignore contamination on cattle carcasses unless they were destined for Japan.
The agency responded Thursday by saying the same safety standards apply to meat for domestic consumption and for overseas exports, and reports to the contrary are "categorically false."
"As the CFIA has confirmed, the meat sold in Canada is just as safe as meat exported to other countries," Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the House of Commons.
"There are strict food safety standards in this country. That is the law."
XL Foods became the epicentre of one of the largest beef recalls in Canadian history earlier this year after meat contaminated with E. coli was stopped at the Canada-U.S. border in September.
People in at least four provinces were found to have been made ill by the E. coli strain; it wasn't until October the XL plant was allowed to resume production.
Agency officials said Thursday they recommended last week to the U.S. Department of Agriculture that XL Foods be relisted, and provided the USDA with an "in-depth assessment" of the plant in an effort to reopen the American market to XL products.
Reports on the CFIA inspection memo won't help.
The issue dominated the opening salvos of question period Thursday, with the NDP's Nycole Turmel asking provocatively, "What rate of fecal contamination are the Conservatives prepared to accept?"
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz called the allegations "absolutely unfounded and untrue."
As is often the case, reality is more nuanced than the rhetoric.
The XL plant does have a Japan-specific inspection station, Paul Mayers, the CFIA's vice-president of programs, explained in a conference call.
Japan only allows the import of beef from cattle younger than 20 months. Those export carcasses for Japan must be free of elements such as spinal columns, fecal and intestinal materials -- conditions that also apply to all Canada's domestic and export beef.
"Japan... requires that a specific station be present on the line in order to confirm those conditions," said Mayers. "Is it necessary in the context of market access? Yes. Is it a requirement from a food safety perspective? No, because that assurance is provided already in terms of the system."
-- The Canadian Press
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 30, 2012 A18
Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
(1 of 20 articles for today)3:48 PM 0
MONTREAL - Discussions are underway to set up a meeting of representatives of various international organizations and states that are ...
Photo Store Gallery
- WestJet plane lands safely in Toronto after reporting engine trouble
- Tasers, cameras could help prevent deadly use of force by police:report
- Fox gets famous after photographed sleeping aboard Ottawa city bus
- Rescued false killer whale calf passes first hurdle in long-odds battle
- Cdn activists to lug jugs of water to Detroit in H2O march to help residents
- Calgary man reunited with his beloved little red Corvette named Betsy
- Restrictions on transporting firearms to be eased under federal proposal
- RCMP officers injured in Moncton shootings thank public for support
- Man with air gun arrested at pro-Israel rally held at Calgary Jewish centre
- Air Algerie flight 'probably crashed'; 5 Canadians among 116 on board: officials
- Ontario medical student, girlfriend among passengers of doomed Malaysian flight
- Mayor of Montreal-area community dies after being stung by wasps
- Police investigate suspicious death at Pemberton, B.C. Music Festival
- Duffy accused of charging for personal trainer, makeup artist, funeral travel
- Canadian teacher detained in Jakarta jail on accusations of child sexual assault
- RCMP in New Brunswick completes investigation in python deaths, now with Crown
- Big Lake Ontario shark hoax shows risks posed by viral marketing, experts say
- New report questions Canadian Ukraine election monitoring missions
- Edmonton drug dealers handing out cocaine samples to potential customers
- Survivor of plane crash, family of dead passenger still seeking damages from airline
- Family of missing boy, grandparents won't give up on finding them alive
- Calgary police confirm violent incident in case of missing boy, grandparents
- $20,000 per person:Activists push for guaranteed minimum income for Canadians
- 'We're lucky to have her in our lives;' baby survives crash that killed mother
- Suspect in case of missing grandparents and child to make court appearance
- Moms change diapers, Dads form leaders: Justice minister's emails to staff
- Investigators bring in boat in search near Calgary-area acreage in missing family case
- Calgary police say there are other leads in case of missing boy, grandparents
- Police say search near Airdrie part of probe into missing Calgary residents
- Calgary police finish looking for evidence in missing couple's home
Ads by Google