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Rise in recalls due to listeria cause for concern, scientist says

From Metro News

A food safety scientist is concerned that a rise in listeria contamination could mean that the government is slipping in its duty to protect Canadian food.

Rick Holley, a food safety expert at the University of Manitoba who advised the government during the deadly Maple Leaf Foods listeria outbreak in 2008, said that recent spikes in listeria outbreaks in processed meats have made him concerned that the meat industry is slacking in its sanitation practices.

He said there are five times as many food recalls due to listeria contamination this year than the year before. To come to that conclusion, he analyzed data on food recalls from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and found that in the first three months of 2015, 44 per cent were due to listeria contamination.

Only 9 per cent of recalls during all of 2014 were because of listeria, he said. What concerned him most, he said, was that the listeria outbreak was largely coming from cooked meat and fish products, which means that the bacteria was probably introduced during packaging.

“What that tells me is that maybe the levels of sanitation application on the part of the food industry are slipping,” he said.

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