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Call for Cooperative Approach to Listeria

by 5m Editor
2 February 2009, at 10:13am

CANADA - Maple Leaf Foods is calling for a cooperative regulatory approach, involving industry and government, to address concerns about listeria, writes Bruce Cochrane.

A Health Canada-Canadian Food inspection Agency working group, formed following last summer's nationwide listeriosis outbreak is recommending several regulatory changes, including mandatory testing of food contact surfaces, extending risk based product testing to all federally registered establishments, mandatory reporting of unsatisfactory results and increased end product testing.

Maple Leaf Vice President for government and industry relations, Rory McAlpine, calls for a HACCP-based approach.

Rory McAlpine-Maple Leaf Foods

The US approaches it based on the risk profile of plants in terms of frequency of testing and the degree of regulatory oversight.

That is risk-based food safety management which, of course, is the foundation for HACCP and everything else.

There should not be too much emphasis on finished product testing.

What we see in the policy now is that it would overly emphasize finished product testing.

This is very disruptive and is not best practice based on a lot of experience in other countries.

The testing frequencies are above US practice in the policy as it's proposed which creates a real competitive issue.

We question how importers are going to be held to the same standard as we're going to be subjected to as a meat industry in Canada.

We see in the policy a really harsh regulatory response to listeria positive test results on food contact surfaces.

Again a punitive approach is not going to encourage best practice and will tend to cause operators to want to hide what is out there and that's not what we want.

There is a proposed requirement to use only accredited labs and conventional test methods as opposed to rapid test methods.

That's very onerous, costly in terms of time and dollars and not consistent with US practice.


Mr McAlpine says the policy should reaffirm the principles of HACCP and encourage strengthened sciences based strategies that define outcomes but that are flexible in the methods for achieving them.