If the new Liberal government needed proof of the need to swiftly address shortfalls in Canada’s food inspection system, they’ve now got the message directly from the proverbial horse’s mouth: front-line food inspectors themselves.
A professional poll, conducted by the respected firm Abacus Data, has revealed that most inspectors surveyed felt understaffing is threatening the safety and security of the country’s food supply. Specifically, the poll found 71 per cent of inspectors in process meat plants and 60 per cent in slaughter facilities report staffing levels in their immediate work team that are inadequate to ensure safety compliance.
Bob Kingston, Agriculture Union National President, released the results to media on March 16. He pointed out the alarming fact that nearly seven in ten respondents believe a major food borne illness outbreak is likely in the near future given the state of food safety in Canada today
“Inspectors worry that a major food borne illness outbreak is on the horizon, and with good reason. For too long, the previous government starved food safety. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency just does not have the frontline resources needed right now.
“This is a red flag that the new government needs to implement its election promise of new investment to shore up frontline food inspection.”
With the CFIA now planning to introduce a second reworking of its food inspection system in less than a decade, only 14 per cent of those surveyed believe senior management can introduce the new regime without compromising public safety.
“During a transition such as this, the CFIA should actually increase the number of inspectors in case something goes wrong. After all, this is about public safety,” Kingston said.