October 25, 2014

After E. coli Recall, Outbreak XL Foods Cleared To Ship To US

The United States Department of Agricluture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) has cleared XL Foods Inc., Establishment 38, of Canada to resume exports to the US effective Friday, December 7, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

An E. coli outbreak  linked to a beef recall by XL Foods sickened  16 people in four Canadian provinces.  The recall, which began September 4 with raw beef trimmings from the plant in Alberta, expanded almost 20 times, eventually growing to include an estimated 2.5 million pounds of beef in the U.S. and an untold number of kilos in Canada.

The CFIA drew fire from Canadian media and workers at the plant on its handling of the recall,  prompting the agency’s president, George DaPont, to draft an open letter in an attempt to set the record straight. “Contrary to assertions made by media, Canadian food inspectors do look at the overall conditions of the plant such as how the carcasses are washed and the sanitation of equipment. Inspectors from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) are in federally registered plants during all hours of operation,” the letter stated.

Da Pont said Canada and the US routinely audit each other’s food safety systems, but that these audits should be viewed as what they are- snapshots of a situation at the plant.  He also sought to dispel the notion that US food safety authorities are better than than their Canadian counterparts. “Contrary to media reports, the CFIA found E. coli in product from XL Foods Inc. through our own routine testing on September 4. The US informed us on the same day that they had also found positive samples in XL Foods Inc. product at the border. This information has been available on the CFIA’s website for weeks and has been explained in numerous media technical briefings. reminds the media that they only have access to some of the audit information.”

The meat involved in the recall was destroyed and meat stored at the warehouse during te ime of the recall was rendered. The CFIA says the USDA’s re-approval of XL Foods is  “demonstrative of XL Foods Inc. renewed commitment and ability to meet its high food standards.”

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