Nine months after a deadly listeriosis outbreak, the union representing federal food inspectors says there’s still a critical shortage of staff to oversee meat processing plants.

The agriculture section of the Public Service Alliance of Canada bases that conclusion on a survey it conducted.

Union officials, who are to appear today at a parliamentary sub-committee on food safety, said the survey results suggest it’s almost impossible for federal inspectors to verify industry compliance with safety rules because staff are overwhelmed.

The union estimates the number of inspectors specifically devoted to monitoring processed meat plants would have to double to 400 to do a proper job. Officials maintain that in many cases, federal inspectors have too many processed meat plants to visit during the course of the day and can’t possibly keep on top of spot reviews and the industry’s self-reported violations.

Tim O’Connor, a spokesman for the food inspection agency, said CFIA hasn’t had a chance to analyse the survey compiled by the union.

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