Agriculture Minister Reacts to Weatherill Report

CANADA - Canada's agriculture minister says a just released report on last summer's deadly listeriosis outbreak will be a key part of efforts to strengthen Canada food safety system, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 22 July 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Sheila Weatherill, appointed by the federal government to investigate an August 2007 listeriosis outbreak that killed 22 people, released her report yesterday.

It outlines events that led to the outbreak, identifies deficiencies in the system and makes 57 recommendations.

Agriculture minister Gerry Ritz says Canadians need to know when they go to the store that every reasonable step has been taken to ensure the safety of that food product.

Gerry Ritz-Canada Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Gerry Ritz-Canada Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Ms. Weatherill and her team have made it clear, last summer's tragic events happened because a number of things went wrong, procedures to clean a specific piece of equipment that didn't work, mandatory environmental testing and reporting had been canceled so it didn't raise the red flags here that it should have.

Canadians have said they weren't able to get clear and concise information quickly enough.

When Ms. Weatherill presented her report and briefed me yesterday she said the different levels of government and departments were like an orchestra that hadn't practiced together.

At the time of these tragic events the different levels of government and departments involved simply did not cooperate effectively enough.

Many of these issues have been identified by other reports and we are already taking action to strengthen our food safety system.

For example this government has re-established mandatory requirements for environmental testing for listeria and for any positive results they must be reported to the CFIA immediately.

That means inspectors will again be able to identify patterns to prevent these types of problems in the future.

We've also hired more inspectors.

However there are always ways to build capacity and strengthen the system.

Ms. Weatherill and her team were asked to map out a way forward and recommend ways to strengthen our food safety system.

The 57 recommendations in this report are detailed and comprehensive.

This government will use these recommendations as part of the guideline to move forward and strengthen our food safety system.

Minister Ritz notes some of the report's recommendations are already implemented, some can be implemented quickly and others will take longer.

Further Reading

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