Investigator: no charges in listeria outbreak

by Bryan Salvage
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OTTAWA, ONTARIO — Due to numerous contributing factors surrounding Canada’s listeriosis outbreak last summer traced back to packaged meat products made by a Maple Leaf Foods Inc. plant in Toronto, an investigator of the outbreak concluded neither criminal nor civil charges should be brought against the processor or any other party, according to Bloomberg.

In August 2008, one of the worst foodborne outbreaks in Canada's history occurred, ultimately resulting in 22 deaths and many illnesses from listeriosis.

Investigator Sheila Weatherill, former head of Edmonton's health system, wrote in her report the outbreak was caused by a lack of attention to food safety by senior management in the public and private sector. She said at a press conference in Ottawa on July 21 the Canadian government should ask a third party to look at the number of food inspectors employed as well as their workload.

"We thought we had a good food-safety program last August, but our efforts failed with tragic consequences. Since then, we have transformed every aspect of our food-safety program," said Michael McCain, Maple Leaf’s president and chief executive, in a statement.

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