The Canadian government has fixed food safety.
The person who is inexplicably still – still — Minister of Agriculture in Canada, Gerry-death-by-a-1,000-cold-cuts-Ritz, said tonight, "Food safety is a priority for this Government. We continue to work with consumers, producers, industry and our provincial and territorial partners to ensure that our food safety system remains one of the best in the world."
At least he didn’t say best in the world.
The self-adoration comes as the Government of Canada released its final report to Canadians on the action it has taken to respond to all recommendations by Ms. Sheila Weatherill outlined in the Report of the Independent Investigator into the 2008 Listeriosis Outbreak.
The Maple Leaf listeria-in-cold cuts outbreak that killed 23 people and sickened 55 in 2008. Self-adoration by government and health-types was rampant during the outbreak even though it was a disaster.
The bureaucrats talk about increased surveillance, more money for inspectors, better testing, more information, but provide little in the way of evidence to support the claim they have addressed all of Weatherill’s 57 recommendations.
Weatherill, who zeroed in on a "vacuum in senior leadership" among government officials, directed almost half of her recommendations on preventing another outbreak toward CFIA.
She also focused on the lack of food safety culture amongst health types and Maple Leaf.
"One of the tangible results of the recommendations is that they collectively impress on all stakeholders involved in food safety the need to adopt a culture of continuous improvement," Brian Evans, the government’s chief food safety officer, says in the report.
Culture encompasses the shared values, mores, customary practices, inherited traditions, and prevailing habits of communities. The culture of today’s food system (including its farms, food processing facilities, domestic and international distribution channels, retail outlets, restaurants, and domestic kitchens) is saturated with information but short on behavioral-change insights. Creating a culture of food safety requires application of the best science with the best management and communication systems, including compelling, rapid, relevant, reliable and repeated, multi-linguistic and culturally-sensitive messages.
And where is the compassionate concerned communicator, Michael McCain of Maple Leaf?
Government is fairly hopeless about these food safety things; and it’s not their job. Maple Leaf makes the profit, Maple Leaf product killed and sickened all those people, Maple Leaf should be leaders. Throwing around phrases like food safety culture because it is fashionable doesn’t count. Actions count.
The best food producers, processors, retailers and restaurants will go above and beyond minimal government and auditor standards and sell food safety solutions directly to the public. The best organizations will use their own people to demand ingredients from the best suppliers; use a mixture of encouragement and enforcement to foster a food safety culture; and use technology to be transparent — whether it’s live webcams in the facility or real-time test results on the website — to help restore the shattered trust with the buying public.
And the best cold-cut companies may stop dancing around and tell pregnant women, old people and other immunocompromised folks, don’t eat this food unless it’s heated (watch the cross-contamination though).