A B.C. meat processing plant that covered up lab results revealing a sample of its product was contaminated with a deadly E. coli strain will not have to test for the bacteria now that it’s provincially regulated.
Pitt Meadows Meats Ltd. said it made a business decision to abandon its federal licence because it incurs higher costs than are necessary because the company doesn’t export.
Regulations require federally licensed plants to report positive findings of E. coli O157 strain to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
But testing for E. coli O157 isn’t mandatory in a provincially regulated plant.
Joseph Beres, inspection manager for the Canada Food Inspection Agency, said federal and provincial plants are committed to the same health and sanitation standards and use the same inspectors. But he said the presence of the deadly bacteria might only be discovered if people become sick.
Ritinder Harry, a spokesman for the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, told CBC News, apparently with a straight face and acting like he’d never heard of the U.S. zero tolerance policy for E. coli O157:H7 that has been in place since 1994, and the whole Mike-Taylor-it-doesn’t-get-us-anywhere-to-blame-consumers-for-O157-bit, also back in 1994, that provincial meat processing facilities are not required to regularly test for pathogens because "the likelihood of finding a contaminated sample is very low,” and that the best way to eliminate risk of being infected is to follow basic food safety rules, including using a thermometer to ensure the meat is properly cooked, avoiding cross contamination with raw meat or raw meat juices in the kitchen, and promptly refrigerating meat regardless of whether it is cooked or uncooked.
This isn’t some Greasy Jungle, Metropolis Noir, with funeral home sandwiches and coffee. People get sick.