Posts Tagged ‘Maple Leaf Foods

I wouldn’t do this, but after listening the other day to a radio announcer harp on a Liberal campaign television attack ad on the listeriosis deaths, and just now reading his piece, I’m prompted to write.

Now 19 people have reportedly lost their lives to the listeriosis outbreak caused by contaminated food, including cold cut meat, from a Maple Leaf Foods plant in Ontario. The plant has since been cleaned up. It reopened September 20.

The radio host- you’d recognize him if I gave the name, but why encourage dribble- made this rant: “Bacteria doesn’t kill people. Conservatives do.” attributing it to a Liberal Party position. Once he created his straw man, he then called the Liberal position “shameless”.

Giving the party that raises the concern about having safe food shameless? Give your head a shake.

Radio talk show hosts are latter-day carnival barkers. Agitate the crowd of suckers, tease them, prod them, prick their sensibilities- they’ll toss you a dollar and throw that ball to win the 10 cent doll or pick up the phone and give their opinion. Or in this case, I suppose, respond in writing.

If you work- I mean at a real job- you pack a lunch. Millions of lunch pails each day going to work and to school with cold cuts in between slices of bread. There isn’t a person in Canada right now who isn’t thinking about that when they pick up pack lunch items at the grocery store.

If the Conservatives, as the governing party, were planning to reduce government inspection of meat processing plants, as they were, that’s a legitimate issue. (Calgary Herald story link.)

For a primer on what listeriosis is and who is most at risk, here is an article from the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). Once linked, download it as a PDF. You’ll need Acrobat Reader or a similar PDF reader. If you don’t have Acrobat Reader, click here and note the link “Get Adobe Reader.”

That journal of the Canadian Medical Assocation has also raised concerns about a government position taken in April, of having industry take more responsibility for inspecting its own meat. Link here for the article, titled, Shifting to food industry self-monitoring may be hazardous, but once linked, you’ll have to download it as a PDF.

Click here for another CMAJ article, Learning from Listeria: the autonomy of the Public Health Agency of Canada. Once linked, you also have to download it as a PDF.

My past posts on the issue: Pomerleau and the lunch meat election; The lunch meat election; and New Democrats understand the lunch meat election.

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I somewhere read that the colour orange can inspire a restaurant customer to order more food. It is, apparently, the colour of hunger.

Perhaps the New Democrats have sensed hunger in the land. Who knows why the grand old party of Tommy Douglas of bygone days has chosen the prominent orange colour backdrop for their 21st century socialist-leaning but conservative-looking leader. But do take a look.

The New Democrats get the importance of the Maple Leaf Foods listeria out break, and the concern it has been for everyone who packs a lunch or packs someone else a lunch with cold cut meats. When 15 people die from eating lunch meat, and the government of the day has been on the record as considered reducing government meat plant inspections and letting the industry police itself more, it should be call to arms. The New Democrats are the only party making a stink about it. See their news release for today.

The one vulnerability the Conservatives have and that ordinary people understand is this: you should be able to eat Canadian-raised, Canadian-processed food more safely than food imported from third world countries. The government has the responsibility to protect its people. It failed in this case. That the government was in the process of divesting itself of much of this responsibility means they should pay at the polling booth.

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What better election plank than food safety?
Fifteen Canadians dead eating tainted lunch meat, and Tony Clement, the health minister, playing Obama groupie in Denver, rather than considering the Maple Leaf Foods listeriosis crisis was crisis enough to come home to attend to. All this on the heels of government plans to cut health inspections.
Luc Pomerleau, a Canadian Food Inspection Agency biologist and union steward, was fired last month for forwarding by e-mail to his union notes made public by accident, that happened to be cabinet plans to cut government food inspection services while transferring more responsibility to the food industry.
On top of that, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz had said Pomerleau may face charges, that he was no whistleblower, that title should go to the individual who turned Pomerleau in. (The Globe and Mail link now offers up only the first paragraph, and requires the reader purchase the 410 word article.)
No issue more clearly illustrates how government can be more than uncaring, but mean-spirited and dangerous. But on top of those reports is another. The Canadian government actually lobbied to have the Americans ease up on their reportedly tougher food safety requirements for Canadian cold cut meats, including standards specific to listeria.

The Tories supporting cuts to food safety by having industry self police themselves seems to have become an election issue, and so it should be.

Tory election ads are already running. I’ve seen them on Business News Network but no one seems to be commenting on them. The ads feature a series of what seem to be on the street and in the park interviews with ordinary folks for supportive one-liners except for the bad-actor voices indicating it took a few takes to get those gee-whiz voice inflections just right. Pre-election ads with people saying they’ll vote “Harper”. Makes you wonder why media is still guessing news-wise of whether Canada is going to have an election. One seems to have been already called.

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  • wordbeeps: No, he doesn't deserve an apology. Who tweets during a funeral? If you do, expect feedback. I didn't say the mourners were faking it. I think they we
  • Holly Stick: Look you fuckwit, are you too stupid to realise that Ghomeshi was an actual friend of Layton's, when you tweeted to him that the mourners were faking
  • aardvarkcola: Thank you. I see the rest of your message now. i'm honoured to to have your words on my blog. That alone is a delight. Lawrence