When it comes to food safety, why is Ottawa letting us fend for ourselves? – The Globe and Mail

Strong opinion piece by André Picard of the Globe on some of the governance issues related to food safety in Canada, and how business interests would appear to trump consumer interests. Quote:

The response to tainted beef from officialdom has largely been buffoonery: The Agri-Business Minister chowing down on beef at a Rotary luncheon at the height of the crisis; the Alberta Premier saying her 10-year-old daughter has eaten beef every day since the recall; the Wildrose Leader saying the suspect meat should be used to feed the poor and so on.

The clear message behind these “don’t worry, be happy” displays is that the interests of business matter more than the health of consumers. Sadly, the anti-consumer bias is built into our government structure.

We have a federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Business, and Gerry Ritz has played the industry-booster role well, repeatedly expressing his concern for XL Foods, the cattle industry and the economy of Brooks, Alta. But he has been all but silent on those who have been sickened and on the safety of consumers more generally.

What we don’t have is a minister of food to give voice to the millions who actually eat food and a Canadian Food Inspection Agency not under the ministerial thumb and whose overriding priority is ensuring safe and pathogen-free food on our dinner tables.

There have been other articles on the scale of the meat-packing industry in Canada and the US (see Food, Inc.) and the risks it entails. Personally, we tend to buy less meat but locally to reduce some of the risks.

When it comes to food safety, why is Ottawa letting us fend for ourselves? – The Globe and Mail.


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