Skip to main content

A file photo from August, 2008, shows a parked truck with the logo of Maple Leafs Foods, at the back entrance of the processing plant on Bartor Rd., Toronto. The plant was linked to several deaths from listeriosis.Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

The union representing federal food inspectors says Canadians aren't any safer now than they were during the deadly listeriosis outbreak two years ago.

It says that's because the Conservative government still hasn't implemented all 57 recommendations made by an independent investigator.

Chief among the union's concerns is what it says is a lack of inspectors working in non-slaughter meat plants.

The union says there are fewer inspectors working in meat plants now than before the listeriosis outbreak.

But the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says that's not the case, and in fact there are more inspection staff than ever.

The CFIA says it is adding 170 inspectors to its staff, and 150 of them are already hired.

Twenty-three people died and many more got sick after eating meat traced to a Maple Leaf Foods plant near Toronto.

The outbreak prompted the federal government to strengthen its food-safety protocols. It's now mandatory for companies to report all positive listeria findings to the food inspection agency, and facilities have to test more often for possible contamination.

But union head Bob Kingston says Canadians are still at risk.

"Effectively, this means that consumers are eating high-risk, 'ready-to-eat' foods that may not have been adequately inspected, produced in factories that may or may not be meeting safety requirements," he said.

The tainted-meat scandal set off a flurry of probes.

Perhaps the most high-profile was an arms-length investigation by former Edmonton health chief Sheila Weatherill. Her team spoke to more than 100 people and amassed about five million pages of information during a six-month probe and still couldn't answer every question, such as how many meat inspectors there are in Canada.

The CFIA says it will report back next September on how it has adopted Ms. Weatherill's recommendations.