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October 10, 2012
WINNIPEG, MB, Oct. 10, 12/ Troy Media/ – According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), 11 E. coli illnesses across four provinces have been linked to the massive beef recall associated with products originating from XL Foods’ Brooks, Alta. facility.
The most recent case was confirmed in British Columbia on Monday. Also confirmed are seven cases in Alberta, two in Quebec, and one in Newfoundland and Labrador. Those affected by the E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria have recovered or are in recovery.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) suspended the facility’s licence on Sept. 27. The agency started a detailed assessment of the facility yesterday to determine if the company has addressed a number of deficiencies that may have led to the outbreak.
On Friday the CFIA released a list of corrective action requests (CARs) that were issued to XL Foods. The agency said XL Foods’ hazard analysis and critical control points plan (HACCP), was not being fully implemented or regularly updated. Specific observations included:
‘¢ lack of detailed documents outlining required steps when product was positive for E. coli O157:H7 or when there were a high number of positives in a 24-hour period;
‘¢ inconsistent trend analysis on positive samples and no process to include test results from client establishments;
‘¢ insufficient record keeping related to on-going monitoring and validation of processes, procedures, and equipment maintenance;
‘¢ deficiencies in sampling techniques and procedures, such as inconsistent sampling and no established monitoring program.
The CFIA also issued a number of other CARs which pointed to general maintenance and sanitation issues that would not typically be expected to contribute to E. coli 0157:H7 contamination. These include refrigeration units not being cleaned as frequently as required, and employees not wearing beard nets.
In a statement released late last week, XL Foods said it takes full responsibility and that it will work with the CFIA to implement changes to its food safety system. When the facility re-opens, the company said it will start with ‘limited production runs with intensified testing protocols, collaborating with the 48 CFIA inspectors who work at plant.’
The company also outlined plans for improvement to its food safety protocols. These plans include video auditing and improved training re-designed by third party experts.
‘E. coli tests take at least 18 hours to complete as cultures are grown and meat will continue to be held under quarantine until results have been analyzed. The intensified protocol will improve our process verification. Testing results have always been supplied to CFIA inspectors at the plant every day and will continue to be,’ the company stated. ‘The plant will also include remote video auditing to significantly inform our supervisory oversight as we become the first Canadian business to use this 21st century technology in a food safety program.’
‘We have extended our high pressure, hot water wash intervention where sides of beef are washed with 185 degree F water to eliminate any possible E. coli contamination. We have also increased computer monitoring of this intervention to ensure it operates at peak capacity at all times.
‘Food safety is simply too important to our customers, our employees and our business,’ the company stated.
Over 1,800 products have been associated with the recall since the initial public notice was issued on Sept. 16.
Alan MacKenzie is a reporter for Troy Media and Canadian Meat Business.
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