Canada’s conservative government says it will implement all 57 recommendations from an independent investigator it asked to look into the 2008 listeria outbreak that was blamed on ready cut meats from the Maple Leaf Foods Toronto plant.
The recommendations from food safety expert Sheila Weatherill will cost about $75 million to implement. The listeria outbreak was responsible for 22 deaths of mostly elderly Canadians.
The Weatherill study of the outbreak called for easier to clean meat processing equipment and a new leadership role for Canada’s chief public health officer during outbreaks.
The government said it will:
- Hire 166 new food safety staff, including 70 focused on ready-to-eat facilities.
- Make health risk assessment teams available 24/7 to support food safety investigations.
- Improve co-ordination among federal and provincial departments and agencies.
- Improve communications to vulnerable populations, such as residents of nursing homes, before and during outbreaks.
- Improve detection methods for Listeria monocytogenes to reduce testing time and respond more quickly during food safety investigations, as well as expand the government’s ability to do more listeria testing.
- Start a third-party audit to ensure the food inspection system has the right resources and priorities.