|Cattle graze in a field adjacent to XL Foods plant shown in Brooks, Alberta, about 200 km east of Calgary. (JIM WELLS/QMI AGENCY)
Federal beef inspectors deny a news report that they were told to ignore contaminated carcasses intended for Canadian consumption from XL Foods, home of the recent E. coli outbreak that caused Canada's largest meat recall.
In a 2008 internal memo obtained by the CTV, a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) meat hygiene supervisor tells CFIA inspectors that meat being processed for sale to Japan is more important and to ignore Canada-bound meat with fecal and intestinal contamination.
"Our number one priority is to ensure this standard is met with Japan-eligible carcasses," the memo reportedly reads. "Ensure that non-Japan-eligible carcasses are not inspected for spinal cord/dura-mater, OCD (other carcass defects) and minor ingesta.
But the CFIA called the report "categorically false," saying the memo was simply outlining a "division of labour."
"The CFIA ensures that the same stringent food safety standards are applied to domestic and exported products. This was the case four years ago and it remains true today," reads a CFIA statement issued Thursday.
"If at any time during inspection a potential risk to food safety is detected -- regardless of the product's destination -- the line is stopped and product is held until the concern is resolved and product is in compliance."
This fall, E. coli contamination at the Brooks, Alta., plant sparked a Canada-wide recall of beef -- the biggest in the country's history.
E. coli poisoning can be fatal for children, the elderly or anyone with a weakened immune system.