Dylan Charles, Contributor
Last week, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a massive recall of beef packaged for consumption in Canada and the United States over fears that “a combination of several ‘deficiencies‘” at the XL Foods plant in British Columbia may have created conditions favorable for an E. Coli outbreak.
E. Coli is a pathogenic strain of animal fecal bacteria that can cause severe food poisoning and even death to humans. So far, at least 10 confirmed cases of E. Coli poisoning in Alberta have put consumers on edge, but it does not appear that consumer demand has been affected.
Originally, the outbreak affected over 30 US states and included some 890,000 pounds of meat bound for retail chains including Wal-Mart and Safeway.
The overall list, which also includes beef sold in the U.S., is so long that the CFIA recommends consumers ask grocers or stores directly if the beef product for sale came from XL Foods. As of Tuesday, 1.5 million pounds of beef has been recalled from major retailers like Walmart, Safeway, Save-on-Foods, Metro, Loblaws and Real Canadian Superstore. [NationalPost]
If a only a few slaughterhouses can cause an outbreak of deadly bacteria that spans coast to coast, potentially sickening people all over North America, while causing the destruction of so much food and the waste of the resources spent to produce and ship it, then is this type of food system serving our best interests?
Rather than ask these larger questions, officials and industry leaders are, of course, assuring the meat consuming public that all measures are being taken to ensure the safety of meat, while politicians are already finger pointing and blaming each other for lapses in quality protections and a slow response to the outbreak.
When framed this way, it appears the government believes this to be more about how many tax dollars can be spent to oversee a tenured meatpacking industry:
‘Mr. Speaker, I can assure you the minister of agriculture is working very hard, working sincerely to ensure that this issue is dealt with appropriately including ensuring we have more food inspectors, more meat inspectors,’ said Defence Minister Peter MacKay, who spoke for Ritz in the House of Commons on Monday.
MacKay said the Conservative government has increased the number of food inspectors by 700 since they came into power, and that new legislation aimed at helping the CFIA respond quickly to food safety issues has been steadfastly opposed by Mulcair and the NDP.
‘We’ve increased the CFIA’s budget by $156-million during the time in government,’ he said. ‘So, Mr. Speaker, there is more front-line workers, more safety for Canadians.’ [NationalPost]
Of course there were already government inspectors working at the plant responsible for the outbreak, proving that government oversight is a false sense of security:
Forty CFIA inspectors and six veterinarians work full-time at the XL plant, the agency said. [NationalPost]
Given that the FDA and the USDA continue to make it difficult for local farms and homesteaders to produce and share their own homegrown meats and products locally, it should be clear that the government and meat industry have neither the intention, nor the capacity to address the fundamental flaws in a corporate/government owned and operated food system.
Furthermore, there is no discussion of an alternative to this system. Local food co-ops, small lot organic farms, and a variety of local farm producers is the antithesis of the factory farm, yet these activities are becoming increasingly outlawed as the North American police state comes of age.
Coming at a time when high fuel prices and drought are causing rising food prices, a meat recall this widespread is also more evidence that our food system is unstable and ripe for widespread disruption. Therefore, having a family or personal food security plan in place, with storable meals on hand, is a smart thing to do now, before a larger crisis occurs.
And, while a vegetarian diet may not be suitable for everyone, the myth about vegetarians not getting enough protein has already been busted, so at least experimenting with a vegetarian diet, or reducing some dependence on meat, is another smart and enlightening thing to do to cushion against a food system so vulnerable to contamination, waste and corruption.
Current Recall Lists:
Dylan Charles is the Editor of WakingTimes.com, an information source dedicated to demonstrating mankind’s need for change and the many ways to make meaningful change is this beautiful world.