How safe is Canadian food? Don’t ask

The Maple Leaf makeover continued this week – a promotional video, settling all lawsuits for $27 million – yet some lingering questions remain. And neither Maple Leaf nor the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is rushing to answer the hard questions:

• who knew what when;

• why won’t Maple Leaf make their listeria test results public; and,??????

• what is Maple Leaf Food’s advice to those folks vulnerable to listeria.??????

Rob Cribb of the Toronto Star reports today that thousands of pages of documents detailing the federal government’s handling of this summer’s listeria outbreak are being withheld.

The Star and the CBC are seeking the records, which include emails sent between officials with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Maple Leaf Foods and the City of Toronto, through an access to information request.

The CFIA has imposed extensions of a year or more on top of the normal 30-day deadline for responding to such requests.

The joint investigation used the federal access to information law in the hope that a request would yield records showing what went wrong, when officials first knew of the outbreak’s potential impact and how quickly the system kicked in to protect Canadians.

None of the records first requested four months ago have been released.

Repeated requests for an interview with Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz have been denied.