July 16, 2018

CFIA Chief On XL Foods Beef Recall: Let’s Set A Few Things Straight

The XL Foods beef recall is as large as its namesake and twice as confusing. The recall, which began September 4 with raw beef trimmings from the plant in Alberta, has expended almost 20 times and now includes and estimated 2.5 million pounds of beef in the U.S. and an untold number of kilos in Canada. It has also been linked to an E.coli outbreak that has sickened 16 people in four Canadian provinces.

As the recall has expanded, so has the amount of disinformation. At least according to George DaPont,
president, of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) , which is overseeing the investigation of the recall.  The main problem as DaPont sees it? The media. To set the record straight, he penned an open letter about the agency and its investigation of XL Foods making three points.

First, said DaPont, Canadian inspectors inspect. “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.”

Second, “as trading partners, Canada and the United States regularly audit each other’s food safety systems. The bottom line is that any issues identified in the course of these audits are addressed so that companies can continue to export their products. Media fail to mention that these audits only capture a snapshot of the situation in a plant, while CFIA inspectors have daily interaction with staff of federally registered meat establishments and make sure that preventive food safety plan is being implemented consistently and effectively.”

Third, DaPont sought to quash 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 U.S. 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”

Earlier today The Canadian Pres reported that XL Foods will destroy all the meat involved in the recall and render or cook to high temperatures the 12 million pounds of meat stored at warehouses not involved in the recall. No word yet on DaPont’s take on that story.

 

 

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