No food recall poses health risk Option consommateurs asks Agriculture
Minister to intervene

MONTREAL, March 11 /CNW Telbec/ - Option consommateurs is concerned over the decision by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to authorize the sale of potentially contaminated food and has asked federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz to intervene on the issue.

Due to the presence of salmonella, hydrolyzed vegetable proteins - a popular flavour enhancer produced by Basic Food Flavor - are currently subject to a major recall in the United States and in Canada. However, the CFIA has decided to let ready-to-cook foods containing ingredients covered by the recall onto the market, thereby posing a potential public health risk.

In a letter to the industry, the Agency states:

    
        "If the cooking or reheating instructions (listed on the ready-to-
        cook foods) can kill the bacteria, no further action is required."
    

François Décary-Gilardeau, an agrifood analyst at Option consommateurs, says that this strategy, modeled on US methods, creates a very disturbing precedent. "The CFIA is transferring the industry's responsibility to ensure food safety onto consumers. However, it is the duty of the food processing industry to provide quality, healthy products."

Mr. Décary-Gilardeau says that the CFIA is wrong in imagining that consumers always comply with the cooking instructions on the packaging. "Many do not even have the time to read them. Ready-to-cook products are widespread on the market precisely because they are so easy to use."

Option consommateurs is asking Gerry Ritz to require on the CFIA to ask the recall of all potentially contaminated products. Thousands of products could be targeted. In addition, the agency is advising consumers to keep an eye out for a mention of hydrolyzed proteins in the list of ready-to-cook food ingredients and to follow the manufacturers' cooking instructions carefully.

About Option consommateurs

Created in 1983, Option Consommateurs is a not-for-profit association dedicated to the defence and promotion of consumers' rights. It has initiated thirty class-action suits and closely monitors issues related to the energy sector, the agrifood industry, financial services and business practices.

SOURCE Option consommateurs

For further information: For further information: Julie Gagnon, Conseillère aux communications, Option consommateurs, (514) 598-7288, poste 226, Cell.: (514) 777-6133, gagnon@option-consommateurs.org; Anu Bose PhD, Head, Ottawa Office, Option Consommateurs, (613) 244-2111, bose@option-consommateurs.org


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