Thursday, August 21, 2008

Canada's Conservatives: The tainted food party

The timing couldn't be worse for Harper's merry band of ideological vandals: A major tainted meat scare involving sickness and death arriving just as their plans to gut food safety enforcement are leaked.

OTTAWA — A major meat recall by a Toronto packing plant has ensnared the Harper government in a controversy over food safety on the eve of a possible federal
election. Liberal agriculture critic Wayne Easter and other opposition MPs are demanding answers from Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz over a leaked cabinet document that outlines plans to give the food industry a greater role in the inspection process.The document also spells out plans to cut millions in federal spending on surveillance for mad-cow disease. While the plans have yet to be approved, critics say they would leave Canadian consumers more vulnerable to food-borne illnesses such as the current outbreak of listeriosis, caused by the Listeria monocytogenes bacterium.

Remember, to movement conservatives Government bad, government always bad. That includes government oversight over food safety.

In the US this kind of doctrinaire devotion to the cult of deregulation, pushed by short sighted business lobbyists and enabled by the Bush administration, has had the same kind of effects on food safety as the Harris government's laissez-faire approach to water safety had in Walkerton.
US consumer groups blamed a "business-friendly" Bush administration for lax food safety policies on Monday, in the wake of the largest US meat recall ever that prompted a 34 per cent drop in shares of Pilgrim's Pride.
Pilgrim's Pride, the number two US poultry producer, on Sunday recalled 27.4 million pounds of fresh and frozen ready-to-eat turkey and chicken products under its Wampler brand, after pulling 295,000 pounds of turkey and chicken products from the market last week due to listeria concerns.
The recall surpasses the previous record of 25 million pounds of ground beef set by Hudson Foods in 1997. The company said the recall occurred after environmental tests at its Franconia, Pennsylvania, plant found a strain of listeria similar to the one identified in an outbreak in the US Northeast that has caused at least 23 deaths and 120 illnesses.
The Harperite plan is also out of step with the big push for greater oversight over the American food system that the likely strengthened Democratic congressional majority will certainly push for after November.

1 comment:

David Toronto said...

Ontarians will remember the deadstock issue and the diseased "downer" cattle being slaughtered.

There is an axiom in economics about false economy: When you start cutting corners, you end up running round in circles.

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