Listeriosis toll grows, number of food inspectors shrinks

August 27, 2008

One of the key initiatives of neo-liberalism and the so-called “Washington consensus” is massive deregulation. It is often couched as “self-regulation” – the notion that we hand over more and more regulation to the companies that we used to regulate through government agencies. It is notoriously ineffective and in combination with huge cuts to the number of regulators still employed by government, it means that the public is at ever-greater risk from a wide variety of threats. The listeriosis outbreak has led to twelve deaths with more added every few hours. At the same time as our most vulnerable citizens are dying or getting extremely ill, a whistle blower has revealed that things are about to get worse: food safety will be put increasingly in the hands of firms like Maple Leaf which is already cutting corners. In addition, the union representing food safety inspectors has stated that the Harper government has also slashed the number of inspectors still working. This government plans to further deregulate food safety, right at the time when a dozen people – and counting – have died from tainted meat.

So what can we Canadians do?

As a start, write a letter demanding the government: 1) hold a public inquiry into the listeriosis outbreak and its causes, 2) abandon plans for so-called self-regulation of the food industry and 3) increase the budget for inspections to a level that guarantees the safety of Canadians.

I am in the process of doing this.

On the immediate personal level, I’ve gone through my fridge with a fine-tooth comb with the updated (long and growing) list in hand and threw out a couple of more items, just to be on the safe side. I seldom purchase processed meats, but a few occasionally do make it into the grocery basket. My elderly uncle who lives with me likes them. The updated list of tainted items is taped to my fridge door. It is several pages long and contains items most of us would not have associated with Maple Leaf foods. Deli meats and sausages from companies like Schneiders, Shopsy’s, Bittners, Burns and others. Who would have thought that these also came off the assembly lines at the Maple Leaf plant in Toronto?

A Star blogs Political Decoder was wondering the same thing in this post. Here is an excerpt:

Well, I guess JM Schneider has left the smokehouse. At Maple Leaf Foods, CEO MIchael McCain has apologized for the tainted meat related to the outbreak of listeriosis, saying his company will do better in future. Perhaps it’s time for advertisers to do better by giving consumers a break.

You’ve probably seen Schneiders’ folksy TV ads that feature a smokehouse employee who says his wife always complains about the smell in this clothes – but, hey, that’s the price of quality. The ad is shot like an old-time news reel showing employees working together and the old man himself saying nothing but the best gets past him. Okay, nobody thinks it’s a genuine 1920s newsreel, but we do at least expect Schneiders meats come from a Schneiders plant where, in a modern age, employees show the same dedication as in the past. That’s the point of the ad: times change, dedication remains the same.

But no. We find out with this tainted meat scandal at least some of Schneiders meat comes off assembly lines at the Maple Leaf plant in Toronto. It’s the plant linked to meats contaminated with the listeria bacteria, with Schneiders products on the recall list.


Read this Political Decoder (Star blogs) post: Tainted meat at Maple Leaf: Where’s old man Schneider when you need him?

Read Star HealthZone article and related articles here: Tainted meat toll grows

Recalled products list as of August 25


Support Environmental Defence to urge Canada to ban Bisphenol A!

July 17, 2007

Please take action in support of Environmental Defence on this important issue concerning Bisphenol A, which is a highly toxic chemical that is in 1 out of 3 cans of baby formula — and it’s also in a wide array of foods that we eat!

I am writing to you today to seek your help in urging Canada to ban a highly toxic chemical called Bisphenol A from food and beverage containers. While some countries have stepped up to tackle toxic pollution, Canada continues to lag behind. Our federal government is doing little to stop Bisphenol A from harming the health of Canadian families.

Bisphenol A is proven to be toxic at low doses and shockingly, it’s in a wide range of foods that we eat.

It’s in foods like ravioli, chicken soup and even infant formula. It can be found in just about anything that comes in food and beverage cans, hard plastic water containers and baby bottles.

The health risks of Bisphenol A include prostate and breast cancer, immune system dysfunction, early puberty in females, and higher rates of miscarriage. New studies with similar findings of the substance’s toxicity are being published almost every month.

You can visit our Toxic Nation website to read up on how else Bisphenol A is bad for us all, and to find alternatives.

Environmental Defence needs your help to get this toxic chemical banned. Read on to find out what you can do. Despite more than 130 peer-reviewed studies showing that it’s toxic, the federal government is not acting to stop Bisphenol A from harming your health .

In fact, a news article in the Globe and Mail last week uncovered that the Health Canada official leading the federal review of Bisphenol A recently spoke at a medical conference and suggested that Bisphenol A is no more harmful than tofu . Within hours of the story being published, Health Canada reassigned the official. To ensure the public interest is upheld, Environmental Defence called on Health Canada to carry out an independent audit of all officials leading the review of key chemicals. You can read the news release outlining our concerns.

You can make a difference today by helping us reach our goal to get Bisphenol A phased out of food and beverage containers within one year.

  1. Make a Donation: Send your gift of $35, $60, or $100 that will go immediately to our campaign to phase out Bisphenol A.
  2. Take Action: Help us reach our goal of 5,000 signatures by visiting and by signing our petition to call on Environment Minister John Baird and Health Minister Tony Clement to take immediate action on Bisphenol A.
  3. Become a Defender of the Environment: with a small monthly pledge, you will join our core group of supporters that can be relied on to preserve our fragile environment. View the benefits of pledging monthly.

You can be sure that Environmental Defence delivers results.

Because of support from people like you, we exposed that Canadians young and old are polluted with harmful toxic chemicals. The federal government listened . Because of our Toxic Nation campaign, the federal government announced $300 million to better regulate toxic chemicals.

We run hard-hitting campaigns to get all levels of government to create policies that will better protect the environment and your health — but our success depends on you.

So please, take action today to help get Bisphenol A eliminated and protect the health of all Canadians!


Rick Smith, PhD.
Executive Director
Environmental Defence

P.S. Please support this important campaign and make a donation today. Your contribution is greatly appreciated.

RCMP to investigate Edmonton police / Ground beef E.coli warning

July 9, 2007


The RCMP in Alberta has been asked to investigate after an Edmonton police officer shot and wounded a woman on Friday.



Officials are warning people not to eat a number of fresh and frozen ground beef products sold at Canada Safeway and independent grocery stores because they may be contaminated with a potentially deadly strain of E. coli bacteria.