A backyard or cottage BBQ is one of the great Canadian pleasures that banish thoughts of frigid Februaries. However, BBQers in Ontario and across the country should be on their guard as chronic understaffing in food inspection could well impact the safety of the meat and poultry they’re throwing on that griddle.
This high-risk situation was revealed in a staffing survey released by the Agriculture Union at a July 28 Toronto news conference. It was based on a report of the inspection situation by frontline Canadian Food Inspection Agency staff and the CFIA’s own 2015-16 Report on Plans and Priorities.
The survey found Toronto area inspection teams frequently operate with only two-thirds of the required number of slaughter inspectors. Central and South Western Ontario regions are also operating with fewer than the number of inspectors needed to ensure compliance with safety requirements.
“In the rush to cut the current slaughter inspection program no appropriate assessment of the risk associated with their new program has not been conducted.
“In the meantime, the Agency is allowing the current slaughter inspectorate to atrophy, refusing to fill vacant positions and turning a blind eye when meat slaughter establishments operate with short-handed inspection teams.
“It’s a recipe for disaster. These are frighteningly similar to the circumstances that led to the Maple Leaf listeriosis outbreak that killed 22 unsuspecting people.”
The answer, Kingston says, is for the Harper the government to increase food safety inspection resources and place them where they are needed on the frontline to allow the CFIA to meet its inspection requirements.