Presentation to the
Sub-committee on
Food Safety

                      May 25, 2009
Agriculture Union – PSAC
• Represents 9500 in the federal public service,
  including the majority at CFIA, Ag Canada, CGC...
Processed Meat Inspection
•   Processed Meat Inspection is the area which came under much scrutiny
    and was responsible...
Prevention vs. recall and
            investigation
• Relying solely on after-the-fact testing for micro-
  organisms igno...
CFIA is under-resourced

• CVS workload at RTE facilities clearly show that no
  inspector can properly look after more th...
CFIA is under-resourced (2)
• On a per plant basis, the number of meat inspectors has
  declined (MPIP)
• There are only a...
Maple Leaf Bartor Road –
        What Happened and Why
• In the year leading up to the listeriosis outbreak last
  summer:...
Little real progress since last
                  summer
• Hiring and training freeze until end of fiscal 2008/09 (See
  T...
Confusion not clarity
• Attack on the credentials of interested
  stakeholders like the Agriculture Union
• Gag order on C...
Recommendations
• Resources
  – Ensure process meat inspectors are responsible for no more
    than two RTE facilities
  –...
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Presentation To The Sub Committee

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Presentation To The Sub Committee

  1. 1. Presentation to the Sub-committee on Food Safety May 25, 2009
  2. 2. Agriculture Union – PSAC • Represents 9500 in the federal public service, including the majority at CFIA, Ag Canada, CGC • Denis Sicard is 2nd Vice-President of the Agriculture Union and a CFIA processed food inspector in Montreal • Stewart Millar is Local 14 President and a CFIA meat inspector in Toronto • I am the National President of the Agriculture Union, currently on leave from my position as a CFIA Inspection Supervisor. (See Tab 1)
  3. 3. Processed Meat Inspection • Processed Meat Inspection is the area which came under much scrutiny and was responsible for Maple Leaf, Bartor Road. – Process, in respect of a meat product, means to substantially change the appearance or nature of a meat product. – Ready-to-Eat (RTE) means that the meat product does not require further preparation before consumption. • Move to Audit system – HACCP in plants since 2005 – Plant employees took over many duties previously carried out by CFIA Inspectors – CFIA monitors company activities, often only through company reports – Over time resource pressures resulted in CFIA Inspectors with excessive workloads ie. Bartor Road Inspector – Requirement to report environmental listeria positives disappeared with introduction of HACCP – Compliance Verification System (CVS) mandatory April 1, 2008 – CVS piloted, including at Bartor Rd. but never evaluated scientifically – CVS - Inspectors have little time to do hands-on visual verification tasks or to spend time on the plant floor becoming aware of general plant conditions
  4. 4. Prevention vs. recall and investigation • Relying solely on after-the-fact testing for micro- organisms ignores the prevention role of on-site inspection – Inspector presence affects behaviour in a positive way – Requirements are followed more precisely – Communication with plant staff provides valuable information • Bacteria are invisible to the eye, but the conditions conducive to food contamination are detectable: – Organic matter on machines – Worn equipment, frayed belts and other conditions that make sanitation difficult – Humidity and Condensation in packing areas – Poor sanitation and practices
  5. 5. CFIA is under-resourced • CVS workload at RTE facilities clearly show that no inspector can properly look after more than 2 facilities (See Tab 2) • In spite of everything the Minister and CFIA has told you, CFIA recognizes this resource problem and referenced it in the context of Maple Leaf (See Tab 3) • No additional process meat inspectors have been hired (See Tab 4) • That is perhaps the reason why CFIA told your committee it doesn’t know how many meat inspectors there are in spite of claims to the contrary (See Tab 5) • Most additional inspectors at CFIA have been hired as part of the Invasive Alien Species program that focuses on plants and insects, not meat and food
  6. 6. CFIA is under-resourced (2) • On a per plant basis, the number of meat inspectors has declined (MPIP) • There are only about 1200 working level food inspectors in all of Canada for every food CFIA regulates and fewer than 200 process meat inspectors (See Tab 6) • Many process meat inspectors are still responsible for 4 or more facilities (See Tab 7) • As a consequence: – Enforcement follow-up is often neglected – Required audits are not completed – Many food inspectors lack training in enforcement and auditing
  7. 7. Maple Leaf Bartor Road – What Happened and Why • In the year leading up to the listeriosis outbreak last summer: – Annual Audits were not conducted – Quarterly audits replaced by CVS (See Tab 8) – Overtime ban • This led to missing the signs of trouble in May and June just before the outbreak (See Tab 9) the same period for which CFIA ordered the inspector to alter his CVS worksheets • Bartor Rd. inspector responsible for six other facilities (See Tab 10) • Bartor Rd. was the only location with a computer • Concerns about the inspector shortage and CVS were raised
  8. 8. Little real progress since last summer • Hiring and training freeze until end of fiscal 2008/09 (See Tab 11) • Two new serious breeches of food safety protocols at Maple Leaf plants in Toronto in January and Hamilton in February (See Tabs 12 and 13) • New listeria policy announced February 20 and subsequently postponed due to training and communications shortfalls (See Tab 14) • No new resources even though the new listeria testing policy represents a 10% workload increase • 10 - 15% operational budget cut to create an internal contingency fund
  9. 9. Confusion not clarity • Attack on the credentials of interested stakeholders like the Agriculture Union • Gag order on CFIA officials during the election • Misleading statement about the amount of time inspectors spend on the plant floor under CVS and the number of meat inspectors
  10. 10. Recommendations • Resources – Ensure process meat inspectors are responsible for no more than two RTE facilities – Adequately train inspectors in CVS and auditing – Conduct a joint CFIA/Agriculture Union evaluation of the Compliance Verification System and the resources required to fully implement it as designed • Transparency – Enshrine in law the CFIA’s obligation to communicate openly with Canadians in times of crisis even during elections – End the practice of making food safety policy behind closed doors – Restore publication of Meat Establishment Audit reports

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