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Saturday, April 18, 2009

I wonder if Gerry Ritz will crack a few jokes? 

In spite of an apparently gratuitous swipe at his federal counterpart, the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health clearly lays the blame for the deaths of two dozen Canadians last summer on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency:
July 16.. . two residents of a nursing home in Toronto became ill with listeriosis. One died. The listeriosis outbreak was traced to deli meats from a Maple Leaf Foods plant in Toronto. But the Canadian Food Inspection Agency did not tell health officials until Aug. 14 that meats contaminated with the listeria bacteria might also have been distributed to grocery stores and deli counters. . . The public did not become aware of the problem until Aug. 19, when the CFIA announced a broad recall of Maple Leaf products.
The CFIA report, which as the Globe reports, was also "quietly posted" today on "a government website", also contains what I think is something of a bombshell.
Buried in section 4.2 of the report, we read that Maple Leaf Foods apparently had found listeria bacteria on surfaces in the problem plant repeatedly between May and August. But they didn't tell CFIA about it until after the scandal broke.
Subsequent to the outbreak, Est. 97B {the Maple Leaf Foods plant] staff provided the CFIA with documentation that the environmental sampling program for Est. 97B had identified positive results for Listeria spp. on a number of occasions between May - August.
Now, they hadn't been finding it in the products they were testing, but they weren't actually testing very many products, only one batch a month. Maple Leaf Food's procedure, when they did find listeria on surfaces, was to clean and retest:
The MLF Directive for Environmental Listeria spp. Swab Monitoring, outlines the corrective actions to be followed when a positive result is found, including additional sanitation action and retesting to verify that the site sampled no longer had Listeria.
So when the listeria bacteria kept on showing up, why didn't anyone think there might be a problem?

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