September 11, 2009 / 7:03 PM / 8 years ago

Canada to boost food safety, hire more inspectors

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will upgrade its food safety system and hire more inspectors in the wake of a listeriosis outbreak in 2008 in which 22 people died, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said on Friday.

Ottawa will spend C$75 million ($69 million) on implementing all 57 recommendations made in a July report on the outbreak, Ritz told a news conference.

The report said the food safety system was caught unprepared and acted without a sense of urgency after the outbreak, which was linked to contaminated deli meats from a Maple Leaf Foods processing plant.

The government said on Friday it would:

* hire 166 new food safety staff, of which 70 would be food inspectors

* ensure health risk assessment teams are always available to help support food safety investigations

* improve communications to the public during an outbreak

* improve tracking of potential food borne illness outbreaks through a national surveillance system;

* improve detection methods for listeriosis

* initiate an independent audit to ensure the food inspection system is working as well as possible.

($1=$1.08 Canadian)

Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway

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