Food Inspection Agency adds dozens more products from plant in Brooks, Alta.
Oct 4, 2012
The list of beef products from an Alberta processing plant being recalled due to possible E.coli contamination has grown again, and food inspectors say the recall could expand further.
Early Thursday, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency added dozens more products from the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta., to a recall that already topped 1,500 items.
The recall could grow even more as inspectors trace products from the plant to secondary and tertiary distributors, manufacturers and retailers.
The XL Foods plant is currently shut down.
There have been five confirmed cases of E. coli illnesses in Alberta associated with the consumption of beef products from the XL Foods plant. Four other E. coli cases are being investigated. In Saskatchewan, health officials are looking into 13 cases of E. coli infection — a higher figure than normal — in September.
The expanded recall came shortly after MPs held an emergency 4½-hour debate Wednesday night on the situation.
While opposition MPs claimed inspection-system cutbacks had compromised the food inspection system, the government said it has hired more inspectors and that pending legislation will boost the country’s food safety.
“Ranchers across this country have done nothing wrong except work hard (and) try to produce the best quality beef they can, and they have been let down by a process,” Ontario New Democratic Party MP Malcolm Allen said.
Alberta Conservative MP Ted Menzies accused the opposition of trying to scare Canadians “about a food system that has some minor problems.”
He added: “We’re looking forward to fixing those problems.”
Earlier Wednesday, the head of the CFIA said the plant at the centre of the biggest beef recall in Canadian history wasn’t properly following some safety procedures.
George Da Pont said the CFIA had issued seven corrective action requests to the XL Foods plant, and was monitoring them before the agency decided to shut the plant down.
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, who spent Wednesday touring the XL plant with Da Pont and then held an abbreviated media conference, said the facility will only resume operation when Da Pont has confirmed to him in writing that the health of Canadians is not at risk.
“Canadian consumers have always been, and will continue to be, the government of Canada’s first priority when it comes to food safety,” Ritz said.
With the federal government taking heat from the opposition for its handling of the E. coli issue, Ritz was expected to be back in the House of Commons for question period today.
Meanwhile, dozens of people have joined a class-action lawsuit against XL Foods, according to a lawyer acting for a man who became sick from E. coli after eating a steak that came via the company’s Brooks plant.