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Wednesday, October 03, 2012 

... "run away! run away"! ...

The federal food safety watchdog says there was a delay in getting data on tainted beef from the Alberta slaughterhouse now under scrutiny in the largest beef recall in Canadian history. George Da Pont began to explain this to reporters during a Calgary media availability with Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz Wednesday but a federal government political communications staffer cut short the press conference

Mr. Da Pont, president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, was answering a question on why the CFIA took so long to get information on particular lots of meat from XL Foods’ plant. “We did not wait five days before asking,” Mr. Da Pont said. “We asked on the sixth of September.” He said front-line staff were scouring the beef processing chain for “critical points” where E. coli might flare up. “On the sixth, we did ask for all of the information There was a delay in getting it,” he said. 

He said the CFIA doesn’t yet have the power to compel the speedy delivery of information. “We have limited authority to compel immediate communication,” Mr. Da Pont said. He said the new food safety act introduced by the Harper government – but still not passed into law – gives the CFIA more power in this regard. “There’s a provision in that to authorize us to do that.” 

Mr. Ritz’s handlers stepped in at this point to end to the press conference after only four questions, saying they would prefer to talk to journalists one-on-one. 

However later they said the CFIA would only answer technical questions about the recall. The agriculture minister declined to answer a reporter’s question on whether he was surprised to see such an outbreak occur in 2012."

The Globe & Mail

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