Canadian government plans to reduce food safety funding - including resources to combat Listeriosis - have been critised by the union that represents federal food inspectors.
Food safety spending will be cut by CAN$21.1 mill. to CAN$330.4 mill by 2013-14, and the number of full-time staff employed at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will decrease by 207.
According to Bob Kingston, president of the Agriculture Union PSAC, cuts of this size will increase the risk of major foodborne illness outbreak - such as the Maple Leaf Foods Listeriosis outbreak that killed 23 people in 2008. The union feels that the food safety funding cuts send the wrong message and could reverse hard-earned progress.
According to the CFIA 2011-12 Estimates Report on Plans and Priorities, financial backing for the agency on the whole will drop from CAN$744 mill. in 2011-12 to CAN$722.5 mill. in 2013-14. This is a decrease of CAN$21.5 mill. The number of full-time staff employed by the agency will also drop by 234 to 6,680 in 2013-14 compared to 2011-12.
The CFIA food safety program will bear the brunt of these cuts - accounting for the majority of the financial resource decrease, and 207 of the 234 full-time positions being cut. Funding to combat Listeriosis the frequency of meat processing establishment inspections will be cut, the report added.
Source: Agriculture Union (PSAC), Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)