The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has released a series of questions and answers about the recall of beef products from XL Foods (Est. 38) in Alberta, Canada. The facility has recalled ground beef and beef products after positive test results for E. coli 0157:H7. The recall, which is in Canada alone at this time, has been expanded 11 times in the past 2 weeks. The USDA has not issued a recall, but has issued a public health warning about the beef and has listed the store and states where it was distributed.
On September 4, 2012, the CFIA identified a positive E. coli 0157:H7 in a sample of beef trimmings at XL Foods. No recall was issued at that time because the government believed that the contaminated product did not reach the marketplace. But that same day, the USDA notified the CFIA that they found a positive E. coli 0157:H7 sample in imported beef trimmings. The CFIA began supervising operations at the plant after they determined that no contaminated samples were in commerce.
Over the next 10 days, the CFIA continued investigating the plant. The USDA found more E. coli 0157:H7 in other beef trimmings; they were held at the border. On September 13, 2012, the CFIA removed XL Foods from the list of establishments that could export products to the U.S. The CFIA determined that there was no one critical factor that caused the contamination, but a series of deficiencies at the plant. Because of that finding, a recall was issued on September 16, 2012 for beef trimmings produced on August 24, 28, and September 5, 2012.
Because those trimmings were distributed to other companies and used to make ground beef, the CFIA started contacting other companies to find out where the beef was sold. Over the next two weeks, the recalls were expanded and updated as retail outlets that were selling the beef were identified. You can see all of the health hazard alerts and recalls at the CFIA site.
On September 18, 2012, the CFIA issued five additional Corrective Action Requests for XL Foods. On September 21, 2012, the recall was extended to the U.S. and the USDA issued a public health alert, but no recall. On September 24, 2012, the USDA found E. coli 0157:H7 in a sample in California. And on September 27, 2012, the XL Foods plant was shut down because adequate controls for food safety were not implemented. Recalls were expanded to include whole muscle cuts, such as steaks and roasts, in addition to beef trim and ground beef products. In the U.S., the products were sold at Kroger, Safeway, Walmart, Fred Meyer, Sam’s Club, and Ralph’s, along with others.
There have been four confirmed E. coli 0157:H7 illnesses in Alberta, Canada linked to mechanically tenderized beef sold at Costco that was produced at the XL plant. Investigations are ongoing in the United States to see if any illnesses are linked to the beef that was distributed there. If you have eaten beef and suffered the symptoms of E. coli 0157:H7 food poisoning, including severe cramps, watery and/or bloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and fever, see your doctor as soon as possible. Simple tests can discover if you have the bacteria and if the bacteria is the outbreak strain. Complications of an E. coli infection can be severe, so medical attention is important in many cases.