OTTAWA — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has responded to an alleged internal memo, leaked to the media on Wednesday, which instructs inspectors at the XL Foods processing plant in Brooks, Alta., to ignore contamination issues with carcasses — unless the meat is destined for Japan.
The letter, which was allegedly issued by the CFIA in 2008, states inspectors should “ensure that non-Japan-eligible carcasses are not inspected for spinal cord/dura mater, OCD (other carcass defects) and minor ingesta … Ignore them.” The memo is causing allegations that inspections fall under a “two-tiered system” that sets different safety standards for domestic and international beef exports.
A spokesperson for the CFIA told media in a conference call that the letter was referring to a division of labour, specifically a particular station that was not responsible for inspecting such regions of the carcass. “For products destined elsewhere, whether it is for the domestic market, or to other markets, that station is not responsible for inspections with respect to that, and that’s why that station would ignore carcasses not destined for Japan,” said Paul Mayers, associate VP of Programs, CFIA.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz issued a statement Wednesday that denies such a two-tier system exists when it comes to inspecting meat intended for domestic or international consumption, calling the memo “categorically false.” “The CFIA continues to ensure the meat sold in Canada is just as safe as meat being exported to other markets — including Japan,” Ritz said.
To read the full statement, visit inspection.gc.ca.