The federal government is misleading Canadians about the changes it’s making to Canada’s food safety measures and bowing to industry pressure in its cuts to the food inspection agency’s budget, says the union that represents food inspectors.

The Agriculture Union, a component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said Tuesday the changes the government is planning to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will create a system “reminiscent of the conditions in place just prior to the listeriosis outbreak.”

In a statement to the press, the union said the CFIA’s food inspectors will be converted to “systems inspectors,” effectively creating an industry “self-policing” system reminiscent of the one in place prior to the 2008 listeriosis outbreak, in which 22 people died from eating processed meats linked to a Maple Leaf plant in Toronto.

The union also said Tuesday that CFIA executives expect to hand off a “big role” to the food industry when it comes to enforcement of food safety rules. It did not provide details.

Despite assurances by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz that there will be no reduction in the front-line staff that inspect food products, executives at the CFIA have been telling staff that cuts are coming, the Agriculture Union said.

The union told reporters that Stephen Baker, vice-president of operations at the CFIA, told staffers he “didn’t know how you take 10 per cent [out] of your budget and not deal with the front line.”

That contradicts Ritz’s assertion in a recent Hill Times interview that “there will be no changes in frontline inspectors.”

“It appears CFIA executives did not tell the Minister that staff who perform these functions have already been told their jobs and the program will be eliminated,” Agriculture Union President Bob Kingston said in a statement.

Ritz has been denying this in public statements since the budget was released in March.

Since 2006, the CFIA has received funding to hire 733 net new inspection staff, including 170 meat inspectors,” Ritz wrote in a letter to the Calgary Herald.

Kingston says he never saw these people materialize.

"It's great that they made the investment to produce all these workers but I'm not sure where they ended up," Kingston told the CBC. "It sure wasn't on the front lines."

The union estimates some 100 food inspectors may lose their jobs as a result of the budget cuts, among 308 job cuts in total. The CFIA saw a $56 million annual cut in the federal budget, though Ritz has been promoting a two-year, $51-million increase to the food safety program.

Kingston told the press he’s willing to believe that Ritz was misinformed about the changes to food inspection, rather than deliberately misleading the public.

I’m certainly not a mind reader, but I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt,” he said, as quoted at the Toronto Star. “He has maintained from the beginning that he wouldn’t do anything that would jeopardize food safety. He has told me this in person and I would like to take him at his word.”

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BEST FOODS FOR YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
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  • Good Old Chicken Noodle Soup

    Grandma was right -- nothing beats chicken soup for fending off sniffles. Not only does it provide the fluids needed to help fight off viruses, it's a powerful mucus stimulant so it helps clear nasal congestion as well as thin mucus. It's also thought to have a mild anti-inflammatory effect than can help ease cold symptoms. Keep some organic chicken stock on hand, because studies have found that even commercial soup is as effective as homemade.

  • Healers With Flavour

    If you want to punch up the healing power of your chicken soup - or any other dish -- add plenty of garlic and onions. When combined, these flavorful healers contain numerous antiseptic and immunity boosting compounds. As an added plus, garlic helps to open clogged sinuses.

  • Shroom It Away

    No herbal medicine cabinet should be without mushrooms. They increase the production of cytokines, which are cells that help fight off infection. They also contain polysaccharides, which are compounds that support the immune system. The most potent cold- and flu-fighting 'shrooms are shitake, maitake and reishi.

  • Keep The Citrus

    Citrus fruits contain hefty doses of powerhouse vitamin C. Studies have found that this antioxidant can reduce cold symptoms by 23 percent, and all that's needed is just one to eight grams (1,000 to 8,000 milligrams) to do the trick. Besides citrus fruits, other foods that have high amounts of vitamin C include papaya, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, tomatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts and red bell peppers.

  • Why Yogurt Works

    Studies have shown that eating a cup of low-fat yogurt each day can reduce your susceptibility to colds by 25 per cent. The beneficial bacteria is Lactobacillus reuteri which has been found to block the replication of viruses that invade the body when we get sick. Not all brands have that particular bacteria, so check labels and be sure to go organic.

  • Immune-Boosting Supplements

    While yogurt is a great source of probiotics, some have more than others and we can really benefit by taking an additional supplement. Other immune-booster "musts" are vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acid.

  • Sipping Tea

    Hot tea is soothing and a great home remedy, helping to thin mucus and ensure proper hydration. For added health benefit, sip green or black tea -- both are filled with flavonoids, which are potent antioxidants.

  • Ginger Aid

    Ginger comes to the aid when we're sick in some powerful ways. Besides soothing a scratchy throat, it has chemicals called sesquiterpenes that target rhinoviruses - which are the most common family of cold viruses - as well as substances that help suppress coughing. Ginger is also a natural pain and fever reducer and a mild sedative so you'll feel more comfortable and be able to rest easier. Add a couple of tablespoons of shredded gingerroot to your tea, or make ginger tea (it comes in tea bags, but you can also simmer fresh sliced ginger to make a potent brew).

  • Honey, My Immune System Rocks

    Honey has numerous medicinal properties and because it coats your throat it is a natural way to soothe sore throats. It also has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties to help fight infections from viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Skip the common clover honey that you'll find in the supermarket as it has the lowest antioxidant level. Look for buckwheat honey, which has the highest. (A note of caution: never give honey to children under one years of age because their immune systems are not developed enough to ward off infantile botulism, which is carried in honey spores.)

  • Get Peppy

    It's ironic that black pepper -- the spice best known for making you sneeze -- can ward off the sniffles. Black peppercorns are high in piperine, a compound known for its anti-fever and pain-relieving qualities.

  • Make It Spicy

    Make recipes more flavorful with garlic, thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano -- while spicing things up, you'll also get an added kick of immune-busters, too.

  • NEXT: Beauty and body treatments you've probably never heard of

  • Solid Gold Facial

    Why not add a little bling to your beauty routine? Now you can -- if you live in Florida and have enough cash to dish out for the, wait for it, 24 carat gold facial. Yep! Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach offers spa patrons the opportunity to have their entire body painted in gold. The thought is karats can help stave off cellulite and prevent aging.

  • The Caviar Facial

    At Channing's Day Spa in Chicago they think putting fish eggs on your face is better than Botox. They claim that freeze-dried caviar repairs sun damage and minimizes wrinkles.

  • Snake Massage

    In Israel, a snake massage is used to relieve heavy back tension and stress... you just have to block out the fact that your masseuse is a slithering snake! But fear not, all snakes are non-venomous.

  • Consuming Pig's Feet

    It started in Japan and then New Yorkers found out about it. The idea is to eat pig's feet and since they are rich in collagen, it will help get rid of wrinkles.

  • The Bee Venom Mask

    This has been marketed as a natural and organic alternative to botox. It was released by Heaven by Deborah Mitchell and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/09/kate-middleton-skin_n_1760202.html" target="_blank">boasts big fans like Kate Middleton and the Duchess of Cornwall</a>.

  • Derriere Facial

    It's not just your face that deserves a little TLC... In the US, the new 'butt facial' is a treatment that is designed to tone, de-blemish, massage, and polish your neglected derriere.

  • Bull's Sperm Hair Care

    Dubbed the, 'Viagra for hair', this hair conditioning treatment is derived from the sperm of a bull. Combined with a protein-rich Katera root, this treatment promises to help repair broken hair and give it a silky smooth look...

  • Cactus Massage

    A cactus would be the last thing you think of when dreaming about a relaxing massage, but the spiky cactus leaf can be used as a massaging instrument. A prick-free cactus pad is used to rub down the skin and help bring out the toxins, whilst absorbing a blend of hydrating cactus meringue and cactus blossom into your skin.

  • Placenta Face Cream

    The placenta has another use other than feeding an unborn baby - as an anti-ageing beauty cream! For the cream, lamb placental extract is taken to create a potent lotion which rich in nutrients and bio-stimulants, promising to revitalise and moisturise your skin.

  • Hay Body Wrap

    In Italy, you can indulge (if you could call it that) with a wet hay body wrap. But before you conjure images of a scratchy experience, this treatment has a twist - you soak in a water bed heated to over 100F degrees while you're wrapped in the hay. The unusual treatment is said to fortify your immune system and stimulate your metabolism.

  • Bird's Poo Facial

    A favourite with the Japanese Geisha ladies, this unusual facial made from sterilised nightingale bird excrement, is proving to be popular with Western beauty-seekers too. The treatment promises to brighten up the complexion and contains enzymes which act as an effective skin cleanser.

  • Beer Bath

    Although a cold beer helps ease the stress away after a hard day, but a beer bath? In West Bohemia, Czech Republic, they believe that beer has super healing powers and have spas around the country offering 'relaxing' beer baths. Apparently beer has skin boosting B vitamins and helps those with high blood pressure. Not to be outdone, a spa in Japan called Yunessan boasts a giant bath full of Sake, green tea, coffee and even ramen noodles...

  • Butter 'Tightening' Treatment

    In Ethiopia, a butter massage is the beauty treatment to have for women hoping to give their lady parts a 'makeover'. Massaged in butter from scalp to toe, butter is applied everywhere on the body (in and out). The women then sit above a smoke hole in a gymnastic-like pose until the butter melts completely. This bizarre treatment apparently tightens vaginal muscles post-pregnancy.

  • Vagina Brightner

    Lactacyd White Intimate Wash has hit the Thai beauty market, promising to make your privates "safely fairer within four weeks" Because according to them: "Sweat and excessive friction from tight clothing can darken the skin around the intimate area, causing self-consciousness, decreased confidence or inhibiting intimacy."

  • Vagina Tightener

    India's 18 Again "tightening and rejuvenating" cream was advertised through the medium of song and dance. Rishi Bhatia, chairman and managing director of Ultratech India, told Campaign India: "18 Again is a first-of-its-kind product for women in India. This product is being launched in India post clinical trials conducted amongst women of all age groups under dermatological control.

  • Urine Therapy

    When we first heard that this weird beauty treatment may well be on the rise again, we had to do a bit of research. And here's what we found out: urine therapy was historically used by the Greeks and Romans to cure all that ailed them. It was also used to, ahem, whiten their teeth. Essentially, the procedure involves drinking your own urine in the hopes you'll look and feel younger. In modern times -- and on shows like 'My Strange Addiction' -- people have been known to drink urine for various reasons. Some scientists have even speculated urine has anti-carcinogenic properties -- which could stave off cancer and wrinkles. No real evidence has been found to support those claims.

  • Microcurrent Therapy for Cellulite

    The Smooth Synergy Cosmedical Spa in NYC scrubs your skin down with a papaya and mint scrub to take off dead skin and clean pores. But the real kicker is when they strap your booty up to a microcurrent therapy machine to zap away that cellulite.

  • Breast Milk Soap

    Milk does do a body good. But the trend toward making your own soap -- to be used when you shower or simply wash your hands -- out of breast milk is, well, a bit extreme. The trend emerged as people started to worry that brand-name soaps were full of chemicals and detergents that would harm their skin (or worse, cause cancer). And since milk is supposed to nourish the epidermis, well, why not turn excess breast milk into something, ahem, usable?

  • Snake Venom Cream

    Just because Gwyneth Paltrow swears by this cream -- and its accompanying facial -- doesn't mean you should actually try applying snake venom cream to your face. Apparently, using a cream which has venom as an active ingredient helps plump up the skin (much in the same way botox does).

  • Fish Pedicures

    This popular treatment has become a spa go-to for women around the world who want softer, smoother feet. Essentially, this treatment involves dipping your feet into a tank and letting hungry little fish -- Garra rufa fish -- gently eat away at the dead skin cells that make your skin feel rough. Some places and states have banned the practice for fears it may be unsanitary.

  • Fire Cupping

    Fire cupping is a natural treatment where a practitioner ignites a cotton ball soaked in alcohol and places it inside a cup. When the cup is placed against a patient's skin, a suction action begins to happen -- which is said to increase circulation. Once "activated," the glass bulbs can be moved to key "energy" points all over the body to boost the immune system and increase blood flow (which will help give skin a natural glow, making patients look younger). A big fan of the procedure is reportedly Gwyneth Paltrow.

  • Chocolate Body Wrap

    A chocolate body wrap? Well sign us up. Sure, there's no scientific evidence to support the claims treating your body to some of the sweet stuff will soothe, smooth and detoxify your skin, but it involves sitting in chococlate for an hour. Sounds pretty tasty to us. Check out the spa devoted to all sorts of chocolatey good beauty treatments.

  • Kim Kardashian Gets 'Vampire Facial'

    On the latest episode of 'Kourtney & Kim Take Miami," Kim decides to get what is called a 'Vampire Facial.' The procedure, where doctors take blood from a patients arm and stick it back in their face, left Kim in a great deal of pain. Kim says she underwent the cosmetic surgery because she wants to look more youthful and erase wrinkles. Kristina Behr has the gory details.