Letter to the Editor: Cuts to Canadian Food Inspection Agency are dangerous

Dear Editor,

In June, the Conservatives chose to make significant cuts to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in the omnibus budget bill. Liberals voted against these cuts because Canadians deserve to feel confident that their food supply is protected just as our farmers and ranchers deserve safe and stable business.

On September 3, a shipment of beef from an XL Foods facility in Brooks, Alberta, was found by U.S. food inspectors to be contaminated with E. coli 0157—the same pathogen responsible for seven deaths and more than 2,300 illnesses in Walkerton, Ontario.

From the time that U.S. inspectors notified the CFIA about the contamination on September 4 until they finally issued a recall on more than 250 meat products, two weeks passed.

In that time, the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service had delisted the Brooks facility from exporting meat to the United States. It took another 10 days before the XL plant was closed.

The recall grew into the largest meat recall in Canadian history, spanning all provinces and territories, plus 41 states.

In the meantime, at least 10 people fell ill, including a young girl who went into kidney failure. Conservative messaging that everything is fine is cold comfort to those who are sick or were exposed to E. coli.

No one wants to see Canadians get sick from eating tainted meat—so why are the Conservatives supporting cuts that remove vital resources from food safety professionals and creating a space where the industry is responsible for more and more of its self-regulation?

Waiting for Canadians to get sick is not a food safety strategy.

Liberals support our scientists and professionals who are on the front line of food safety and call on Conservatives to do the same.

—Frank Valeriote, MP, Liberal Party Critic for Agriculture and Agri-Food

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