The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) confirmed on Monday (8 October) that a further case of E.coli had been traced back to beef products from XL Foods, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 11, across four provinces.
So far, no-one has died in the outbreak, with all those affected by the E.coli 0157:H7 bacteria recovered or in recovery. However, the recall of over 1,800 beef products from an XL Foods plant in Alberta has raised questions over Canada’s food safety regime.
In a statement, the Canadian Meat Council (CMC) said the industry was taking the recall “very seriously” and that all meat processors would now carefully review the Corrective Action Requests (CARs) in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) initial report on the management of E.coli risks at the XL Foods plant.
“We will work with the CFIA and Health Canada on implementation of any updated directives on E.coli control and on other food safety control measures the government may institute,” it said.
It added that the industry had invested heavily in technologies and procedures to enhance food safety, including new sanitation, processing, packaging, refrigeration and laboratory testing technologies, and would continue to do so.
“Our collective processing industry has worked in collaboration with the CFIA to put in place scientifically robust, innovative and world-recognised food safety and quality systems to the benefit of our valued customers and consumers at home and abroad,” it said.
On 9 October, the CFIA yesterday began a detailed assessment of the XL Foods plant in Alberta to determine whether the facility had addressed the deficiencies uncovered in the CFIA investigation into the outbreak.
The agency said the plant would only be allowed to re-open once CFIA inspectors were “fully satisfied” that it had implemented “effective controls to manage food safety risks at all stages of production”.
“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. The CFIA will also verify that preventive controls will effectively manage E.coli risks once the plant is operational,” said a spokesperson.