Budget cuts could mean less inspection of imported food—cue the listeria fears (and associated mongering)

Budget cuts could mean less inspection of imported food—cue the listeria fears (and associated mongering)

A listeria bacterium 

The Public Service Alliance of Canada is warning the public that upcoming cuts to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency could mean fewer people inspecting imported food, potentially allowing more tainted or otherwise unsafe food to slip past the eagle-eyed workers. Appearing at a recent press conference alongside several stalks of asparagus and two ripe-looking cantaloupes (no, really), Bob Kingston of the Agriculture Union warned that spending on food safety could be cut by up to $74 million.

From the union’s press release:

And the Agriculture Union, a component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, says a planned Conservative government cut of 10% of all ministries could also reduce the number of food safety staff to levels lower than when the Maple Leaf Foods listeriosis crisis hit in 2008, killing 23 consumers and making hundreds seriously ill.

“Canadian consumers don’t know that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency today only inspects two per cent of all imports–and that percentage may drop even further if budget cuts of 10 per cent are imposed on CFIA, Agriculture Union President Bob Kingston.

….

“Can and should we trust that foreign countries have the high food safety standards Canadians expect and that they do proper inspections of everything they export?” he added.

Meanwhile, the CFIA is being praised by industry for rolling out its new “Statement of Rights and Service for Producers, Consumers and Other Stakeholders,” which lay out new standards and practices, from the point of view of producers, consumers, animal transporters and other folks. So are feds trimming and streamlining an inefficient bureaucracy? Or might there be some detrimental effects to cutting back on inspections? The proof will be in the cold cuts.

Food Inspectors Union Warns Consumers That Federal Budget Cuts May Reduce Canadian Food Inspection Agency Examination of Imports to Below 2%; May Cut Other Food Safety Inspection As Well [PSAC]
Food-inspection cuts put Canadians at risk: Union [Metro]
Statement of Rights and Service for Producers, Consumers and Other Stakeholders [Canadian Food Inspection Agency]