According to a news source, a putative class action has been filed against retailer Loblaw and meat processor Siena Foods Ltd. following a listeriosis outbreak that sickened a number of Canadian consumers and led to a nationwide recall of salami and prosciutto products. While one press outlet has indicated that the bacterium which sickened two individuals has been matched genetically to the Siena meat, another reports that none of the recent five listeriosis-related deaths has been linked to Siena products. The lawsuit apparently alleges that Siena was aware of its products’ “potential toxicity” but failed to inform consumers, deciding instead to advise its distributors. Siena Foods is apparently closing its facility the weekend of March 20-21, 2010, to sanitize the plant.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is reportedly trying to hire new meat inspectors to increase its inspections of some 80 meat-processing plants. The United States requires inspections every 12 hours, and imports are at risk unless the inspections meet U.S. standards. The Canadian agency apparently ramped up its inspections after the Siena Foods outbreak, but its current staffing levels have put a strain on inspectors. A union official was quoted as saying, “Our members have had it. They need some relief here.” The Canadian agency has indicated that it may be able to hire 100 new meat and poultry inspectors in 2010. See The Canadian Press, March 15, 2010; Edmonton Journal, March 16, 2010.