Feed recalled meat to animals? Oh, that makes sense
Be reassured people. Everything is under control in the aftermath of the tainted meat scandal.
Paul Mayers, a senior manager at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, says some of the recalled meat might be fed to animals. "I'm not suggesting that that is an option in this case. When product is recalled, then a range of options can be employed," he said, including destruction. However, he added:
"Product may go to rendering ... and through rendering, then that product can be reworked, the listeria would be destroyed and that product could then be used in the production of animal feed provided that the product meets our requirements."
Hmmmm. Feeding rendered meat to animals. Haven't we heard something about that before? Didn't I get on a plane to go to Alberta to cover BSE in that province? Or is mad cow disease no longer associated with animals eating animals?
I'm probably not the only one scratching my head in the fallout of the listeriosis outbreak. So many lapses in logic. It would be almost comical if people weren't dying and getting sick and families not worried about feeding children.
I could swear I heard Maple Leaf Foods spokesperson Linda Smith saying Maple Leaf Foods found positive swabs for listeria in their Toronto plant earlier in the summer, but that samples tested negative after the area had been thoroughly sanitized. So tell me why wasn't there a recall then? Is it because "positive results for listeria inside a food plant" are common? That's what CEO Michael McCain told reporters at yesterday's press conference, simultaneously declining to give details on listeria having been found at the Toronto plant. He did stress, however, that nothing was found "out of the norm" prior to the outbreak.
He's apologized and taken the blame for Maple Leaf, insisting it wasn't the fault of federal or provincial inspectors. A cynic might attribute that seemingly noble approach to a desire to avoid even further costly and time-consuming inspection hassles in future. But let's not be cynical.
If McCain won't give details on listeria swabs and won't say there should have been a recall, what is it exactly he's taking blame for? He said regulators weren't to blame, but stressed they were made aware of all test results and procedures at the Toronto plant. That seems to shift responsibility back to the regulators. What should Maple Leaf have done? McCain says it's hopeless to test all the meat:
"If you had a box of cereal and you took one tablespoon of cereal out of that box you would more than likely get a negative result, even though a bacteria may exist at the bottom of the box," he said. "It's like looking for a needles in a hay stack."
Where does that leave us? You can't test all the meat but apparently it's not reliable to test the environment at the plant either because positive results are common. Bummer. Overall, McCain seems to be moving to the maybe-we'll-never-know approach.
If they can't do better than that, maybe the public should take the maybe-we'll-never-eat-processed-meat approach.
A postcript: McCain swears he's not, but it sure sounds as if he's listening to lawyers. Or am I being too cynical?