Nfld. & Labrador

Food inspection lab closure a 'huge concern,' King says

Newfoundland and Labrador's fisheries minister is worried about the pending closure of a federal food inspection lab in St. John's.

N.L. fisheries minister says he is seeking further information

Newfoundland and Labrador's fisheries minister is worried about the pending closure of a federal food inspection lab in St. John's. 

Darin King says it's a big concern when health and safety jobs are eliminated.

Fisheries Minister Darin King is concerned about the pending closure of a federal food inspection lab in St. John's. (CBC)

"Any time you take out an inspection job related to health and safety, it’s a huge concern," King said. "But I don't know the implications in terms of how their program is going to continue to operate."

The minister says he doesn’t want to condemn or support the decision until he has further information.

Until now, samples of seafood exported from Newfoundland and Labrador went through the St. John's lab.

They will soon be tested in Nova Scotia instead.

A union official says the decision could delay the inspection of seafood exported from this province.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz is defending the changes, saying facilities in Nova Scotia and P.E.I. are more modern and better equipped to handle complex food and plant testing.

"The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is not making any changes that would in any way reduce the safety of Canadian food," Ritz said in a prepared statement sent to CBC News.

"The move will create enhanced pools of scientific expertise in two geographic areas instead of three, allowing the agency’s scientists and diagnosticians to work together more closely and efficiently."

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