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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Not My Job 

Apparently Stephen Harper's government wants the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to quit wasting time on food inspection. From a leaked document in the story in The Globe and Mail (via “Rusty Idols”, which has much more):

Among the 13 areas proposed for cuts is meat inspection: “Shift from full-time CFIA meat inspection presence to an oversight role, allowing industry to implement food safety control programs and to manage key risks,” the document states.

A mere “oversight role”, that means they don't intend to inspect meat. Let someone else do it. That's pretty clear, isn't it? “Overseeing” a thing could mean doing absolutely nothing until a certain number of complaints have been made, or a disturbing number of people have died. Anyone who works in an office or any organization knows that “overseeing” a project means whatever you want it to mean. You can just sit in your office and say “my door is always open” to the people who are actually doing the work.

More importantly, as discussed at “Rusty Idols”, this news comes just after an outbreak of food poisoning caused by tainted meat.

A spokesman says while it may sound as if CFIA no longer considers food inspection to be part of their remit, that would be an unfair characterization:

Speaking on behalf of the CFIA, Canada's chief veterinary officer, Dr. Brian Evans, said the proposals would allow CFIA inspectors to focus on new areas as the food system evolves. Dr. Evans said he understands that some would be concerned about the change given how it is being presented.
“The perception in how its being presented at this time is that we are walking away. We will not have presence, or we won't be carrying out inspections and that in fact is not the case,” he said. “What we talking about is recognizing there is a very clear responsibility on the part of industry. Government can never regulate or inspect its way to total food safety.”

So inspectors would be focusing on new areas. Which ones? No information about that. Unnamed, non-meat-inspecting activities, no doubt. The rest of his statement avoids the question as well: he doesn't say, “oh, yes, we will too inspect the meat,” or anything like that; he's saying, “Inspecting food is not the job of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.” He seems to think that's a good argument.



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