The majority of humans I have met are vastly humane. Comparatively, the majority of Government decisions are seen as exasperatingly profane. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has been slowly going the way of the other federal departments in our post-democratic Canada; they have gone from having the occasional nosebleed of odd policy, to having chronic influenza of misguided rulings, to now having a dead soul.
The conventional wisdom is that the risk increases from farm to fork, with farmers posing the least risk, followed by processors, then restaurants, and finally the consumers who often cause themselves to be become ill by failing to protect themselves with good hygienic practices and by throwing out foods that have expired. This is true when considering the total number of illnesses but breaks down when considering fatalities. Consumers often sicken themselves but don't generally kill themselves. So what's wrong with the system?
Self-policing has proven to be inadequate in the past as some food producers took an overly optimistic view of risk, dismissing (or unaware of) potential hazards to the extent that food safety was compromised. This is why the CFIA feels that external inspections by a regulatory agency are so important.
The U.S. FDA just convinced 25 drug companies to stop producing antibiotics for animals that are used in human medicine. Many believe Canada should follow suit. Clearly, it is humane to treat sick animals, but harm can come to humans if animal antibiotic use develops drug-resistant bugs that subsequently infect humans.
The year 2012 saw some scandals in Canada. There was the exposure of the multi-million dollar Ornge Air Ambulance scandal, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency scandal in Alberta, and the Robocall scandal. Did we spend a lot of time, money, and energy investigating and analyzing these scandals? Yes. Is there a sure way to avoid these problems for the next year, 2013?
Establishment 38 is not a lunar outpost operated by Weyland-Yutani. It is a slaughterhouse and meat processing plant in Brooks, Alberta, operated by XL Foods Inc. The CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) has suspended the operating license of Establishment 38 because of the detected presence of E. coli O157:H7. Another food recall, this one crossing almost all provincial borders, is today's sobering headline reality. While the scientists, researchers and investigators of the CFIA have E. coli O157:H7 under the microscope, Canadians have also placed Canada's food safety system on a slide and we're collectively scrutinizing how we got ourselves into such a pickle. Our massively complex global food system involves billions of supply chain transactions daily. The relationship with the consumer has evolved and citizens must diligently participate in the food equation in order to prevent food borne illnesses. But, do we have the skills to be active participants in a food system we interact with on multiple occasions daily?