Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hold the Beef

It's a good time to become a vegetarian in Canada. This is a point which pains me, as I have to admit that I'm a hamburgers and spaghetti kind of kid, but it looks like those childhood comfort foods may be a thing of the past as the federal budget has promised cuts to food safety workers. This means that the safety and quality of meat within and outside Canada will be compromised and the chances of contracting some nasty condition or bacteria will be increased.

With memories of the 2008 Maple Leaf foods recall due to listeria still lingering in the public's mind, it's not a great time to propose cuts to one of life's essential needs. The government tabled cuts to government services and most of them were presented as things that we could live without; you know, the red tape kind of people, the back office jobs, not front of the line service delivery. Things that we might not miss, like paper pushers and bill stampers. But when you cut something like food safety, well, that's pretty important.

In fact, it's a public health issue. Any form of outbreak from meat products in Canada would not only be detrimental to consumers, it would also be lethal to farmers and food manufacturers and kill overseas exports. The spillover effect into our health care system would also be something of a concern, not to mention the possible long term effects of food poisoning like mad cow disease. Maybe the chances of that aren't strong in Canada, but the only people who could tell us that are the food safety people, who are, unfortunately, being eliminated.

Combine this little bit of news with the pink slime scandal in the United States, and all of a sudden, going vegetarian is no longer an issue of ethics or loving cute things covered in fur. It becomes a serious health concern for oneself and our long term health. Whether we're health conscious by choice or because of a healthy fear of death, most of us don't want to consume something subpar or potentially dangerous.

In a tight fiscal environment, there are many things that we can do without, but it's a pretty common truth that humans need food to live. This is not the best area to compromise in. Most people would probably rather wait an extra week to have their passport issued instead of cutting food safety workers and seeing the quality of our food go down the tubes. Especially since tubes are what we will be using, once we get sick.

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