The Harper Conservatives are dismissing a leaked memo from the XL meat packing plant that shows inspectors were told in 2008 to ignore some contaminated carcasses.

“Any carcass regardless of where destined that is contaminated is pulled from the line as is the carcass on either side of it, it’s called bracketing,” says Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz who calls the report false and misleading. “There is zero tolerance for any carcass that has any fecal matter or any ingest on it.”

The leaked memo is from a Canadian Food Inspection Agency supervisor. It instructs inspectors to examine carcasses that have to be shipped to Japan, but ignore visible contamination on beef – such as fecal matter – for Canadians.

The CFIA claimed that this memo was simply a division of labour because the inspector at this station only dealt with Japanese meat. Carcasses for Canada and other countries were dealt with by other inspectors on the line, and the only reason there is a separate station is because Japan demands one.

Paul Myers with the Agency says it was specific to one station in a multi-step process and Canadian meat had been dealt with properly, but the union representing workers disagrees saying this was the last station on the line.

The NDP are calling for an independent audit of the inspection agency, saying the government is purposely turning a blind eye.

“They’ll do a review in five years, in the meantime we may find more of these situations occurring,” says Agriculture Critic Malcolm Allen.

He says this shows a disturbing trend that inspectors never learned the lessons of the 2008 listeriosis outbreak and it’s time for a complete independent audit of our food safety system before there is another dangerous recall.

However, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said there are no two-tier inspections.

“The meat sold in Canada is just as safe as being exported to other countries. There are strict food safety standards in this country – that is the law, and we make sure that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has the resources to enforce those standards.”

The XL plant was responsible for the contaminated beef which sparked the largest meat recall in Canadian history.