Following the latest beef recall, the CFIA announced that it plans to revamp how companies analyze data in an attempt to improve the Canadian food safety system.
According to Dr. Richard Arsenault, director of the meat programs division at the CFIA:
“There were 40 inspectors — 20 per shift — and six veterinarians overseeing the fast-moving production line at the slaughterhouse, but the company was in charge of taking a second look at what its tests for bacteria were showing.
The carcasses passed tests for cleanliness and disease, they were treated with a processing aid to kill any invisible E. coli O157: H7 and then pasteurized with steam to get rid of any that was missed.
Any beef that still tested positive for E. coli O157: H7 after that point did not leave the plant, but the problem was that no one was taking a close enough look at the products that tested negative immediately before and immediately afterwards, or taking a step back to figure out why those positive results were coming.
As a result, products that did have traces of the bacteria — despite having produced negative results — made their way out of the plant, only to be caught during routine testing by the CFIA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Sept. 4.”
This points to the need for better, more innovative ways to test our food and analyze those test results. It isn’t enough for companies to do the testing, they also have to present the data in a way that paints the real picture of what’s going on.
I met with a gentleman yesterday who has a long history working with Canadian meat processors and we had a great chat about the state of the industry, where it’s going and where improvements are needed. One thing he said really stuck with me: innovation is desperately needed, particularly around traceability of meat (particularly as animals are increasingly being shipped to different places in smaller and smaller pieces – offals anyone?) and around the analysis of samples.
I don’t know about you, but I see a blue ocean here: Super Smart Canadians listen up! Someone create a system that better analyses testing data and can properly trace meat as it is more widely distributed. And when you want to inquire about a patent for your brilliant invention, give me a call