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Strengthen ties with Canada at 75 million dollars to upgrade their food safety

16 September 2009 1,532 views No Comment

OTTAWA, CANADA – The Canadian government announced earlier this week that it is allocating $75 million to protect Canadians from food-borne illness outbreaks, after an independent investigation concluded that last year’s deadly listeriosis outbreak in Canada was met by a “void in leadership,” the Ottawa Citizen reports.
The funding will target the “litany of problems” that private investigator Sheila Weatherill detailed in her July report.
“One year ago, we were reminded that the job of keeping Canadians safe is never done. There are always new opportunities to strengthen our food-safety system,” said Canada’s Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. He said that the government is moving to implement all of Weatherill’s 57 recommendations.
“It was clear from last year’s outbreak that further improvements were needed,” said Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq.
Canada will distribute the $75 million over three years, and the money will go toward preventing, detecting, and responding to future outbreaks. Distributions will begin immediately and will help “ramp up” testing capabilities at government laboratories.
As a first step, the government will hire 166 new food safety staff over the coming months who will be charged with identifying sources of food-borne illnesses and improving the tracking of potential outbreaks.
Seventy of the new hires will be inspectors assigned to ready-to-eat meat plants.
Last year, Canada suffered a listeriosis outbreak that killed 22 Canadians, mostly elderly people. Weatherill’s report concluded that the Public Health Agency of Canada suffered a failure of leadership.
Other recommendations suggested by Weatherill included revising Health Canada’s listeria policy and fast-tracking new food additives that can improve food safety.

Canadian public health officials estimate that up to 13 million Canadians are affected by food-borne illnesses each year, resulting in up to 500 deaths.

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