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Canada's food safety little improved since 2008 crisis

22 Canadians died as a result of the listeriosis crisis caused by Maple Leaf Foods in Toronto.

Any gain for Canada in rankings comes from deterioration elsewhere - Sylvain NUPGE

Ottawa – 7 June 2010: Little has changed in Canada in terms of keeping the country's food supply safer in the wake of the 2008 listeriosis outbreak at Maple Leaf Foods in Toronto.

Although Canada edged up one spot to fourth place from fifth in the 2010 Food Safety Performance World Ranking, the improvement is more a reflection of deteriorating standards in a number of other countries rather than improvement at home, says a food policy expert at the University of Regina.

"Basically, Canada has moved up one because some have actually moved down," concludes Sylvain Charlebois, associate director of the university's graduate school of public policy.

Denmark, Australia and the United Kingdom were ranked at the top among 17 countries included in the study. Italy, France and Ireland were at the bottom.

"My sense is that many countries do have a lot of work to do, but when you compare Canada with everyone else, Canada does quite well," Charlebois told CanWest News.

Since the last rankings were published in 2008, Canada's food safety system was shaken by the 2008 listeriosis outbreak in which 22 Canadians, mostly elderly living in long-term care facilities, died after consuming tainted deli meats produced at a federally-regulated plant run by Maple Leaf Foods.

Ottawa committed $75 million in the wake of the outbreak to implement the recommendations for improvement. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has also spent a portion of a $113-million pool of money committed in 2008 to improve food and consumer safety through a food and consumer safety action plan.

Posted: June 11, 2010

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