CFIA closes XL plant in Alta. over E. coli tainted beef

The XL Foods meat processing plant at Brooks, Alta., halted operations today following loss of its licence from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The plant, one of two major federally inspected cattle slaughter and processing facilities in Western Canada, has had some of its meat subject to recall since last week.

Recalls on an expanding list of products with possible E. coli contamination were issued over several days and apply to more than 210 products and most major grocery chains across Canada.

The recall also applies to a variety of beef products in at least eight U.S states.

In a news release issued today, the CFIA said XL’s licence to operate has been temporarily suspended, with all products now under CFIA detention and control. The products from the plant will be released only after being tested for E. coli 0157:H7.

“The CFIA has identified a number of issues with regards to the establishment’s preventive control plan,” it said in a news release.

“The detection of E. coli in slaughter facilities is not uncommon, and plants are expected to have adequate measures in place to monitor higher than normal detection rates and modify control measures accordingly. This trend analysis was not always conducted consistently at the facility.

“In addition, deviations were noted from the company’s documented E. coli O157:H7 control measures and sampling and testing procedures. The company was unable to demonstrate through its documentation that it regularly reviewed or made necessary updates to its control plan for the facility.”

Officials from XL were not available for comment.

According to the CFIA, the company voluntarily initiated meat recalls as of Sept. 16 and applied them to product packed between Aug. 12 and Sept. 13.

Today, the CFIA said XL expanded its voluntary recall to raw meat produced Aug. 24, Aug. 27-29 and Sept. 5.

The CFIA said XL had committed to “additional steps to deal with all issues and prevent recurrence.”

“To date, the company has not adequately implemented agreed upon corrective actions and has not presented acceptable plans to address longer-term issues.”

In a Sept. 28 statement, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association said the XL licence suspension will affect the live cattle market, but added there is ample processing capacity elsewhere.

A complete list of meat and meat products subject to recall is available at www.inspection.gc.ca/food/consumer-centre/food-safety-investigations/xl-foods/recalled-products/eng/1347948154750/1347948313776.

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