Opposition demands outside audit of food safety system

NDP agriculture critic Malcolm Allen. (DAVE HANUSCHUK/QMI AGENCY)

NDP agriculture critic Malcolm Allen. (DAVE HANUSCHUK/QMI AGENCY)

Kristy Kirkup, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 6:18 PM ET

OTTAWA - Opposition parties reiterated calls for an outside audit of Canada's food safety system on Tuesday - a recommendation also made by an independent investigator who probed the 2008 listeria outbreak.

"If it (audit) was required then, following the crisis, I am of the belief that those kinds of things should be repeated, not annually, but at least every five years so we do have a clear picture of what is going on," said Liberal MP Frank Valeriote.

Valeriote is a member of the Commons agriculture committee which is currently combing over food safety reforms proposed by the government in the Safe Food for Canadians Act.

The government says its legislation will give meat inspectors more power to compel food producers to provide standardized information and the bill received praise on Wednesday by groups including the Canadian Meat Council and the Retail Council of Canada.

Although opposition parties say they are on board with the bill, both the NDP and Grits want an independent audit to evaluate where the system stands at present.

Sheila Weatherhill, who was appointed to conduct an investigation into the listeriosis outbreak which killed 22 Canadians, recommended an independent audit to "accurately determine the demand on its inspection resources and the number of required inspectors."

"Sheila Weatherill called for (an) audit...to see if the compliance verification system actually truly works and how to resource it," said NDP agriculture critic Malcolm Allen. "She said that's what they really should do and so the department actually"¦did a review."

Allen says an audit would differ from a "review" because it would determine current needs and demands.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it will be "convening its expert advisory committee" to review what led to the recent E.coli calamity at Alberta's XL Foods but there are no plans to launch an outside audit on Canada's food safety system.

 


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