Friday, August 29, 2008

It keeps growing

As the PM is floating an election date of October 14th now and is engaged in self-centred political survival, the national public health matter of the meat recall takes new turns.

Today, there was a significant expansion to B.C.:
Health officials say a death in British Columbia is being blamed on the ongoing listeriosis outbreak, bringing to nine the number of deaths linked to tainted meat produced by Maple Leaf Foods.

It's the first death outside Ontario, where eight other people have died, since word of the outbreak first emerged nearly two weeks ago.
The Mayor of Walkerton, with all the evocative power of the name of that town, has called for a public inquiry (see FarNWide).

There is evidence the Canadian government wanted lower standards than the U.S. and pressed the U.S. accordingly (see ABCer). Gerry Ritz is inexplicably responding to the charge in bafflegab:
"The systems are different but comparable," Ritz told a news conference.
No...one is lower, and one is higher. That is not comparable.

Meanwhile, for the everyday citizen, the recall seems to expand daily, with more announcements today:
Meanwhile, almost 50 additional products have been added to an expanding list of items being recalled because they may contain some contaminated meat products from a Maple Leaf Foods (TSX:MSI) plant in Toronto.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency added a variety of ready-to-eat products early Friday that are sold in Sobeys and Foodland stores throughout Atlantic Canada.
And the Consumers Council of Canada is speaking out:
Eleanor Friedland, vice-president of the Consumers Council of Canada, said she doesn't believe the federal government when it says consumer safety is a top priority.

"If that's the case, how come (so many) people have died and we don't know how many more will be showing symptoms?" Ms. Friedland said.

"The ball fell through and consumer confidence is right down the tubes, with respect to government and companies like Maple Leaf. It's absolutely outrageous."
...
Ms. Friedland called on the federal government to ramp up inspections and for municipal and provincial governments to bully Ottawa into paying attention to the matter, which she suspects will be a major election issue should Canada be headed for a fall election.

"It's affecting more and more people than you can possibly imagine," Ms. Friedland said, adding she has heard from many concerned citizens in the wake of the outbreak and recalls of Maple Leaf products.

"School lunches are going to have to be re-thought, hospitals, cafeteria — this is a major, major consumer issue."

Ms. Friedland said she also wants to know how the Maple Leaf plant in Toronto came to be contaminated with the Listeria bacterium in the first place, calling president and chief executive Michael McCain's claim that the source may never be determined "nonsense."

"They have to find out what caused this so that it can never happen again," Ms. Friedland said. "If they don't find out, how do I know that next month it's not going to happen again? Or with some other products? More care has to be put into how our food is prepared."
Still feeling that an election does not sit right while this issue ongoing...but hey, I'm not a Conservative brainiac.