All posts tagged food safety

Handling of the Champlain Bridge report an interesting case study in ineptitude

The federal government’s treatment of information about the Champlain Bridge is an interesting case study about government communications, bureaucratic (and political) arrogance, and the general contempt held in Ottawa (and Quebec City) for the public.

In case you haven’t heard the story, it went down like this: Transport Canada minister Denis Lebel said that he wouldn’t release a study on the bridge because “When you make public information that is processed by people who are not necessarily knowledgeable about the subject, it can create worries that I do not want to create.”

This caused a storm of indignation, so two days later the report was released. The report was not, in fact, that hard to understand. This led the Liberal leader Bob Rae to announce that he did not believe that the public were getting all the reports that were out there – that, in effect, the government was pulling a fast one by substituting one report for another.

There can be no question that the matter was handled terribly. This is a subject of great sensitivity in Quebec, where a collapsing bridge several years ago killed five people. This led to revelations that inspections were not being done properly.… Read the rest

Media Update for April 17, 2011

Advance warnings negate benefits of inspections:

It seems that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is giving egg producers an easy ride when it comes to inspections. A blogger has posted that the CFIA gives as much as two weeks notice. Some producers have used this time to clean up and get their hen-houses in order. This, of course, negates the much of the benefit of an inspection regime. To be really effective, they should be random, unannounced and include real testing (as opposed to just inspecting the paperwork).

The CFIA should know better, but can’t seem to change itself. There were many lessons learned after the 2008 listeriosis outbreak, but they still haven’t implemented many of them – most notably the lack of inspectors. How can they promote a safety culture in the industry when they themselves are so negligent?

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Inspections lack surprise
Agri 007 (blog), April 13, 2011
Summary: If you’re speeding and get warning that there’s a policeman with radar over the hill, you slow down to the speed limit.  You’re not caught and disciplined, so you probably continue to speed. There appear to be lots of warnings for egg farmers in Ontario and grading stations that the enforcers are coming, so few are caught and disciplined.… Read the rest

Media Update for April 14, 2011

Canadian food safety criticized by Canadian Medical Association Journal:

I picked up another food safety story from one of my favourite blogs, barfblog. Doug Powell, who is a Canadian at Kansas State University, has a posting on the state of food inspection in Canada. This when we’re in the midst of another food contamination outbreak that has made more than a dozen people sick and may have killed one woman.

Powell’s post quotes a Canadian Medical Association Journal editorial on food safety (which criticizes Canada’s food inspection system), and former Canadian Food Inspection Agency President Ron Doering (who gives it lukewarm praise).

As Powell observes, and contrary to the statements of the quoted individuals, Canada is actually not all that good at food regulation. Or any regulation, I’d have to add. This, at least, is the assessment of Global Integrity, which gave Canada a poor rating on law enforcement.

We at Canadians for Accountability agree with GI for several reasons. First of all, there has been a widespread move towards so-called safety management systems (called, I believe, the “Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point” system in food safety) – where producers are expected to monitor their own systems and ensure a safety culture, and regulators generally only inspect the safety system as opposed to shop-floor compliance testing.… Read the rest