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Listeria talks – Metro US

Listeria talks

Contrary to earlier claims, the subject of Listeria was broached by federal officials and Maple Leaf Foods prior to a deadly outbreak last summer that was linked to tainted meat products, documents show.

Handwritten notes from a July 24, 2008, meeting indicate officials from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Maple Leaf discussed “food safety in relation to Listeria,” although no details about the substance of the talks were available.

The discussion took place roughly two weeks before tests linked the company’s luncheon meats to the outbreak.

Both sides had previously denied the subject of Listeria came up at the meeting. Yesterday, they acknowledged it did come up, but said earlier denials were made in reference to discussion of the listeriosis outbreak itself.

Notes from the July meeting, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, show Evans and McAlpine discussed “food safety in relation to Listeria.”

Further information is blanked out in the documents released by the CFIA.

CFIA spokesman Tim O’Connor said yesterday the July 24 discussion had nothing to do with Canada’s listeriosis outbreak, but was trade related.

“(Listeria) was discussed with respect to how changes in domestic requirements have an impact on imports,” he said. He declined to elaborate.

In a statement yesterday, Evans said there was “absolutely no discussion” during the meeting about Listeria being linked to one of Maple Leaf’s Toronto processing plants.

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