OTTAWA– Liberal Agriculture and Agri-food critic Frank Valeriote made the following statement today on food safety:
“This morning, I gave notice of motion to have the House of Commons Agriculture committee study the recent E.Coli outbreak related to shipments of XL Foods meat.
The ongoing recall – totalling more than 1.5 million pounds of beef to date – is one of the largest in Canadian history, affecting products in stores in every province and territory and 41 states.
It is deeply troubling that the Minister responsible for food safety, Gerry Ritz, continues to defend our food inspection system, even though it completely failed to detect tainted meat before it left the plant. It is equally concerning that it took the government two weeks from the time the US first detected E.coli in XL meat shipments to begin recalls, and another ten days after that to shut down the XL plant entirely.
How did our food safety system fail so dramatically in this case? Why did it take so long for Minister Ritz to warn Canadians and issue a recall? Why did Minister Ritz tell Canadians that, ‘None of it (tainted beef) made it to store shelves’ when it clearly did? How have recent cuts to food inspectors affected Canada’s ability to avert such a crisis? How will we prevent cases like this from occurring in the future?
The Minister owes Canadians answers.”
Mr. Valeriote’s motion is as follows:
That the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food hear testimony from witnesses on the subject of food safety, and specifically the recent release and export of E. coli contaminated meat from the XL Foods facility in Brooks, Alberta in order to identify where the problems arose and what measures are necessary to prevent future threats to the Canadian food supply, Canadian trade, and Canadian producers and consumers, and,
That the witness list include but not be limited to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food; Dr. Richard Arsenault, Director of the Meat Inspection Program of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency; Bob Kingston, the Professional Institute of the Public Service, the President of the Agricultural Union, relevant representatives from the departments of Agriculture and Agri-food, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and representatives of XL Foods.