090202 Canadian Meat Inspection System DefendedFebruary 4, 2009
The Canadian Meat Council said that the recent media coverage of the finding of the bacterium, listeria, in a Canadian meat processing plant is unwarranted and is creating a false impression of both the industry and Canada's meat inspection system.
A subsidiary of Canadian meat processor, Maple Leaf Foods, was inspected last month by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), after routine testing showed positive results for listeria.
The subsidiary, Cappola Food Inc, makes dry cured meat for the North America market. Maple Leaf said it was cooperating with the CFIA, who confirmed that no illnesses were reported, and, in addition, that there was no food safety risk as a result of the find.
James Laws, executive director of the Council, in a letter to the Canadian publication, the Standard Freeholder, stated that given the nature of the organism, finding it in the meat processing environment such as on walls, floors or in drains is not uncommon, and in fact it is an expected outcome of testing.
"Listeria is a common environmental contaminant and responsible companies routinely carry out tests on samples collected from the processing environment to verify the effectiveness of their sanitation programs," wrote Laws. "The sampling programs are designed to find listeria if it is present, so that sanitation measures can be adjusted to eliminate it."
He said that the Council and its members are committed to doing everything necessary to produce safe products and to protect consumers from food safety hazards, including supporting and contributing to the efforts of CFIA to elaborate, implement and verify compliance with risk-based policies to further strengthen Canada's food safety system.
The Council, he continued, has formed an industry working group on L. monocytogenes to facilitate the industry's participation in the current CFIA policy consultation process.
"The working group is also in the process of developing guidance for the industry in the form of best practices for listeria control in meat processing establishments to broaden and further enhance the application of measures that will raise the standard for listeria control in Canada," added Laws.