Tuesday, May 5, 2015

CFIA response to XL report

Here is the response that Dr. Bruce Archibald, president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, has posted on its website to respond to the three-person panel that was highly critical of CFIA and XL Foods Inc. staff in connection with the biggest beef recall in Canadian history. (My comments in brackets).
"Canada has one of the safest food systems in the world. The Conference Board of Canada rated Canada's food safety system as number one out of 17 OECD countries including the United States. (What are the Conference Board's credentials on food safety and how do they compare with the three-person panel?)
"The Agency's overall spending has increased significantly to the highest levels in Canadian history due to the government's increased investments in food safety. (More money for negligent staff improves nothing.)
"The Government of Canada has invested over $517 million in various food safety initiatives, since 2008. More recently, in Budget 2014, the Government has provided $153.6 million over five years to strengthen the CFIA's preventive food safety oversight programs. (But that most recent budget is less than the previous one.)
"A food safety inspector is present in every federally-registered meat slaughter plant in Canada. A comprehensive system of inspection tasks are routinely carried out in federally-registered meat processing plants. (Nice in theory, but apparently lacking in practice.)
"The CFIA has no plan to reduce food safety activities at JBS Canada. (More accurately, the CFIA seems to have no plan, period.)
"It is expected that the presence of up to forty inspection staff in a large operation like JBS Canada would identify opportunities for improvement. (Expectations do not equal performance.)
"Corrective Action Requests issued by the CFIA and the follow up actions from the company provide a documented record of the ongoing, proactive inspection work being conducted at JBS Canada and all food processing establishments. Corrective Action Requests may be issued for a range of situations, from minor deficiencies to more serious concerns. (More balderdash.)
"The number of Corrective Action Requests issued to JBS Canada is consistent with an operation of its size. All corrective action requests were addressed back in 2014 or previous to that and there are no overdue requests. (Until, of course, we have another crisis. Then we'll go back and learn about the deficiencies.)
"JBS Canada has fully addressed all issues raised by the CFIA in the allotted timeframes. There are no outstanding Corrective Action Requests. 
"CFIA meets regularly with JBS Canada to review performance. The last meeting was held in January 2015. (And CFIA met regularly with XL Foods executives. Coffee and doughnuts all 'round, no doubt.)
"B.A. (Bruce) Archibald, PhD
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (ghost written by a team of cover-their-butts bureaucrats).