Thursday, September 18, 2008

Na-na-na-na-na -- I can't hear you!

Gerry Ritz is Harper's problem, but our problem is a little broader than that -- can we trust the Canadian food we are buying?
The Conservatives seem to think that the way to deal with their food inspection responsibilities is to stick their fingers in their ears, shake their heads back and forth, and say "Na-na-na-na-na" as loudly as they can.
Scott directs us to a new Public Service Alliance website called Food Safety First which describes how the federal government is trying to make food safety problems disappear.
First, they're not actual creating or enforcing any actual safety regulations. No,no, that would be too much trouble, plus, of course, it would make the food industry mad, and the Harper Conservatives never want industry to be mad at them.
Instead, what they're doing is much easier, not to mention cheaper.
They're letting food plants inspect themselves, then not publishing the results! Simplicity itself!
The move toward industry self-policing has been done quietly by Ottawa politicians, bureaucrats and food company executives who fear news of the changes would spark a public backlash.
The spotlight of media attention fell on the government’s plans when a secret government document became public that outlines the government’s plans for the: "shift from full-time Canadian Food Inspection Agency meat inspection presence to an oversight role, allowing industry to implement food safety control programs and to manage key risks," and;"elimination of federal delivery of provincial meat inspection programs" in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
Meanwhile, Ottawa has quietly killed the publication of audit reports of Canadian meat processing facilities because of complaints from the industry that these reports caused the companies bad press.
Currently, the only source of independent information about safety in Canada meat processing industry comes from the United States. The US Department of Agriculture conducts an annual audit of Canada’s meat, poultry and egg products inspection system. The American audits, including plant visits, have revealed some shocking findings which were reported by the Globe and Mail.
The complete USDA audit is available here.
Steve at Far and Wide sums it up:
When Harper takes to the mic, and defends Ritz, saying he is doing a good job on the file, and that's all that matters, the follow up question should ask about that JOB. Why are you putting the onus on companies to self-police, when their chief concern is profit, sometimes at the expense of public safety? Why are you CUTTING inspection? Canadians need to understand that this government is putting public health at risk because of ideological considerations. The Conservative policies are the bad joke here.

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