October 8, 2012
XL Foods plant ready for inspection
By Jenna McMurray, QMI Agency
CALGARY - The plant at the heart of the largest beef recall in Canadian history will go under the microscope Tuesday.
"They have indicated to us in writing that they are ready," said Dr. Harpreet Kochhar, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's executive director of western operations, of XL Foods Inc. Monday.
The company's Brooks, Alta., plant, which processes about a third of Canada's beef, had its licence suspended Sept. 27 in the midst of a massive recall on meat products due to potential E. coli contamination that is now estimated to include between 1,700 and 1,800 items.
"We will walk through the establishment, make sure the corrective action plan has been implemented, the food safety controls are there and after that we will make the recommendations to senior CFIA officials," said Kochhar said of Tuesday's inspection.
XL's licence and operations will remain suspended for the time being, Kochhar said, adding there's no timeline on when the plant might reopen.
"CFIA inspectors will verify that the sanitary conditions of both the slaughter and processing areas of the plant, including all equipment, meet the requirements of Canada's meat inspection regulations," he said. "The CFIA will also verify that preventative controls will effectively manage E. coli risks once the plant is operational."
Meanwhile, the Public Health Agency of Canada Monday confirmed an 11th case of E. coli -- this time in B.C. -- has now been linked to the XL facility.
"This is not a new case that has developed today, the individual has recovered," said Dr. Gregory Taylor, the agency's deputy chief public officer.
"The tests show that the E. coli 0157 that made this person sick had a matching genetic fingerprint as was found in earlier cases."
Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Quebec have had seven, one and two E. coli cases respectively linked to the company, reports the agency.
Dr. Richard Arsenault, the CFIA's director of meat programs, said XL Foods exports to more than 20 countries including the U.S., Mexico and some Asian nations.
"When the recall steps were initiated, immediate action was taken to communicate with those trading partners," he said.
"Our understanding now is that those products have all been identified ... and they're in the process of being brought back or disposed."
The United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service previously reported 890,000 pounds of boneless beef trim were received by U.S. companies from XL, but on Friday, it upped the estimate to 1.1 million pounds of trim, and 1.4 million pounds of cuts used to make steaks, roasts and ground beef were received.
The XL plant has been subject to eight audits by foreign countries in the past four years as well as internal audits by the CFIA, Kochhar said.