MLAs engage in pork politics
By JEREMY LOOME, LEGISLATURE BUREAU
Edmonton Sun, Wednesday November 21, 2007
Alberta's agriculture minister has invited opposition politicians to tour a Red Deer pork plant slammed by the U.S. government as unsanitary, after he defended it publicly as safe.
George Groenveld, the MLA for Highwood, made the remarks yesterday after criticism from NDP Leader Brian Mason.
"Last week, the Olymel pork processing plant in Red Deer was banned from exporting pork to the United States after food safety infractions were found during a U.S. Department of Agriculture audit," said Mason.
"But in the house last Wednesday, the agriculture minister told us 'Olymel can ship to the rest of their customers throughout Canada' and called the infractions minor," said Mason.
"If Olymel's meat is unfit for Americans to eat, why is it fit for Albertans to eat?"
Among the concerns the USDA listed were condensation dripping onto meat, black specks of unidentified material on cuts of meat, and a cigarette butt found on top of a container.
"The USDA report is disgusting," said Mason.
"I'd like to ask the premier why he's allowing his agriculture minister to downplay the safety concerns about unsanitary operations, instead of demanding that the federal government step in and clean up this facility."
But Groenveld said that wasn't his intention and "under no circumstance in this world" would the CFIA allow unsafe food into the Canadian marketplace.
"If the honourable member would like to come with me to Olymel I would gladly take him on a plant tour," said Groenveld.
"Then you could see for yourself."