BTC: Listeria, by the numbers


From the Globe.

“More than 440 food products have been recalled so far this year because of exposure to Listeria monocytogenes, including 323 related to a single production line at a Toronto meat processing plant. During the five years between 2003 and 2007, by comparison, the food-borne pathogen was mentioned in only 19 product recalls.”

The story gets a bit confusing from there. But the key point appears to be this:

“… figures compiled by The Globe and Mail on the number of food recalls reveal that some of the testing did not appear to happen until the product was on retail shelves or had already been consumed.”


BTC: Listeria, by the numbers

  1. “The story gets a bit confusing from there”

    Sounds like you have something similar to Dion’s hearing disability, Aaron.

    You can comprehend english when it suits your partisan agenda but when it’s pointed out that Canada accepts more listeria in food than any other Western country, which Libs are at least as responsible for as Cons, it gets ‘confusing’ apparently.

  2. By the numbers:
    March 31, the CFIA implements a new system at the Maple Leaf Meat Processing plant, a system designed to help them achieve the 5% operational cuts that they were told to achieve, leaving the Maple Leaf Plant with 1 inspector, who had to supervize 6 plants, doing inspections himself only 1 time per quarter, and relying on the employees to inspect a random sample of the product 1 time each month and report the truth to him the rest of the time.

    Because of this, we now have 48 confirmed cases of listeria, with 9 suspected cases, 18 confirmed deaths from it, with 7 more suspected, including Alexxis McDonald-Moose, an infant only 42 days old.

    Oh, and we also have Mr. Ritz complaining about how difficult this is making it for him politically, calling it “death by 1000 cold cuts”.

  3. jwl:

    Exactly where in Aaron’s post is politics mentioned?

    The Globe and Mail piece does mention the Prime Minister, but only in relation to the Public Enquiry he launched.

  4. To summarize the Conservative position on most anything:

    “Yes, we f**ked up. But the Liberals f**ked up too.”

    I don’t even let my kids pull that kind of crap on me when I catch them doing something wrong (but my brother was writing on the wall too!).

  5. jwl – I don’t think it is selective ‘hearing’ when a sudden spike happens like we have seen this year.

    The Conservatives aren’t the victim here. The people who got sick and those that died are.

    I repeat – THE CONSERVATIVES ARE NOT THE VICTIMS HERE. Well, unless they ate some contaminated food and fell ill. Then they would be victims as well.

    I am still amazed at the lack of outrage most Canadians have towards contaminated food killing people.

  6. To summarize the Conservative position on most anything:

    “Yes, we f**ked up. But the Liberals f**ked up too.”

    Or, without the need for eBowdlerism, “After thirteen years of _______, blah blah blah, didn’t get the job done, blah blah blah.”

    Then John Baird sits down and a page wipes the spittle off his chin with a warm lemony cloth.

  7. According to Globe, an outbreak of listeria in 1998 made many countries reduce the level of allowed listeria, except for Canada. Every year, 10-15 people die from listeria poisoning in Canada but no one cared about them. And I don’t recall Aaron caring about listeria deaths until he could use it as partisan wedge issue.

    All of you out there who are shocked by this outbreak, but didn’t give a monkey’s about people who died previously to this, I would like to know how many listeria deaths per year is acceptable?

  8. jwl,

    I’m not doubting your info, but where did you get the numbers? The reason I ask is that prior listeria deaths may not have been linked to commercial food processing (presumably, I could kill my own kids with it by practicing poor food safety in my own kitchen).

    On the political side of things, it sounds like you won’t let go of the “we’re f**k-ups, but so was everyone else before us” line of argument. Are you guys allergic to accountability?

  9. Sean S

    Can’t find article that I remember reading in Globe that looked at how many people die per year due to listeria, but I do remember it said 10-15 deaths per year.

    It all comes down to choices government/public make. I am not trying to say these deaths don’t mean anything because other people died as well but I am saying it’s selective outrage. Less people would be harmed by listeria if we didn’t allow unpasteurized milk/meat and soft cheeses but consumers want those products so we have to assume risk that comes with it.

    I did find an article in Van Sun by Pamela Fayerman from last week:

    A new report shows that 78 B.C. residents have contracted listeriosis in the past six years, 10 per cent of them pregnant women whose infections put them at high risk of miscarriage or stillbirth.

    Dr. Eleni Galanis, a physician epidemiologist with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, said up to 30 per cent of those who get listeriosis die.

    Galanis said the 78 cases reported since 2002 are very likely an underestimate since not all cases are reported.

    But the article in the BCMJ by Galanis and others said a recent survey of leading public health nurses, obstetricians, midwives and family doctors, conducted from March to May of this year, found that the health professionals admitted their own knowledge about listeriosis is lacking.

  10. ‘On the political side of things, it sounds like you won’t let go of the “we’re f**k-ups, but so was everyone else before us” line of argument. Are you guys allergic to accountability?”

    Of course not. But Maple Leaf has accepted ALL responsibility for the listeria outbreak. Read the article…this came straight from the mouth of the president of the company. Who else (besides desperate Liberals) would have more incentive to want to pin the blame on somebody else?

    Anyone trying to make this about Conservative policy killing Canadians (hello T. Thwim) is playing politics, pure and simple.


  11. jwl,

    Thank you for the background. I think, to be fair, that the listeria from unpasteurized milk, etc., is somewhat of a distinct case in that it falls outside of federal inspection responsibilities.

    But clearly, the latest outbreak was not solely a consequence of conservative actions. That said, their recent cutbacks to inspection resources would tend to suggest that they should be accepting a fairly large chunk of the bad press. Add to this their general penchant for “less” government, and it seems entirely fair to take them to task on this.

    I do think governments – of all parties – have become too fond of using inquiries and inquests to dodge taking responsibility for critical issues like these.

  12. jwl – interesting (really) but none of that addresses Sean’s point. How many of those deaths were linked to food handling the manufacturer? The majority could be (and likely were) from unsafe handling by the consumer or from environmental sources.

    john g – Maple Leaf allow the contamination to occur, but policy changes allowed the contaminated meat to get into the food system.

  13. Maple Leaf has been eager to fall on their virtual sword and take the blame because they do not want the food inspection regulations tightened up. It’s in their best interests to say “our bad, we’ll do better next time, promise!”

Sign in to comment.