Two articles in the Globe today highlighted a growing problem with eating meat in Canada — the food inspection process is collapsing and no one [who can affect it] cares. Apparently, in the last two weeks there has been another Lysteria outbreak in luncheon meats prepared by Siena (I may not be exactly accurate on this and don’t care). And there was a discussion of the inquiry into the big Maple Leaf foods problem as well. Seems that while meat products for export are looked at every day, products for domestic consumption are only inspected weekly. And one might ask that with this frequency is anything looked at beyond the paperwork?
This is coupled with the efforts by the government on both sides of the border to drive the small slaughterhouses out of business in favor of the huge packing plants. Interestingly, the small outfits do not have a history of food safety issues — but the big ones do. May have something to do with their size or maybe their predilection to buy meat (we think it is meat) from anywhere world-wide to cut their costs in producing these big blocks of ground ‘beef’ that our industrialized food services buy to pump out those burgers we consume in such huge quantities.
And then there is the argument that these industrial companies really have the consumer’s interests at heart in trying to keep costs down to produce a uniform product in huge quantities. But then if the cost of the occasional lawsuit for food poisoning is less than the cost of proper inspection, profits are better so who cares?
It does make me wonder if it is really safe to eat our food anymore? In the days when we ate what was made within a radius around us, when the dairy and meat came from people we could know if we wanted to, food safety had some obvious built-in controls. But when the food comes from huge corporations that consider their ultimate customers abstractions (consumers) and not people they see in the market, one has to wonder what their interests are?
I for one am starting to wonder after getting sick from a commercial (made fresh) sandwich — is anything made with industrial meat safe anymore? Seeing the regular stream of news reports about casual inspections, sweetheart deals between business and government and a slow and cavalier response to problems — makes me think that vegetarianism is the only recourse.