The meat processor at the centre of Canada’s E.coli crisis has been granted permission to resume exports to the US.
Establishment 38, XL Foods Inc, was re-listed by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) last week and can begin exports to the US immediately. The approval means the facility, which is currently operating under the management of animal protein processing giant JBS USA, can focus on “normalising capacity”.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said the FSIS decision was demonstrative of XL Foods’ “renewed commitment” and ability to meet the “high food standards” of the US. However, it said it would continue “enhanced oversight activities” at the Alberta plant.
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Verlyn Olson said that achieving re-listing had been “a long and difficult process”. He added that the re-listing of the plant was good news for its owners, the workers, the livestock sector and the community as a whole.
“I want to thank the CFIA and the operators of the plant for their commitment and ability to meet the CFIA high food standards, which have resulted in the re-listing of the plant. I also want to thank Minister Gerry Ritz and his staff, who have worked hard to ensure these products are safe and available to all markets,” he said.
“Once again, Alberta’s reputation for high-quality, safe food products has been maintained and the re-opening of our largest trading partner is very good news for everyone involved.”
The president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), Martin Unrau, said that the “normalisation” of operations at the processing facility would boost both confidence in the country’s beef industry, with the additional capacity helping to create a competitive market for Canadian beef
“The resumption of full operations at Establishment 38, along with JBS’ recent appointment of Willie Van Solkema to head their Canadian operations, are positive signals for the industry,” he said.
Meanwhile, operations at another Canadian meat plant have resumed following clearance by food safety bosses. CFIA said that Capital Packers, which was closed for failures related to its food safety controls and recall procedures, had now met requirements and was allowed to resume production under “intensified inspection”.
Capital Packers recently issued a voluntary recall of ham sausage products after a sample from an employees sleeve tested positive for listeria monocytogenes. CFIA said that a food safety investigation into the contamination had revealed there were “no additional potentially unsafe products in the marketplace”.