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October 23, 2012
WINNIPEG, MB, Oct. 23,2012/ Troy Media/ – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has lifted its suspension on XL Foods’ Brooks, Alta. facility. Effective today, the facility will be permitted to gradually resume slaughter and processing operations under enhanced surveillance and increased testing protocols.
The facility, which has been at the centre of a major recall of over 1,800 products, was closed by the CFIA on Sept. 27. Sixteen E. coli illnesses across four provinces have been linked to the recall.
On Oct. 11, the plant opened under limited operations while the CFIA monitored its procedures, including the cutting and processing of the remaining carcasses in the plant.
The CFIA today stated that, following this thorough examination, the agency determined the company’s E. coli O157:H7 controls, as well as sanitation and meat hygiene procedures, are being implemented appropriately.
The plant normally has 46 full-time CFIA inspectors on staff. The CFIA said additional inspectors will remain at the facility to monitor the company’s slaughter procedures and to ensure strengthened food safety controls are being effectively integrated into daily plant practices.
The CFIA said its enhanced oversight activities include:
two additional inspection resources, in addition to the current complement, will focus on certain inspection tasks at key stages of production;
increasing testing for E. coli O157:H7, over and above the company’s already established testing protocol, which sees all trim lots sampled and tested; and
holding products until all E. coli O157:H7 test results have been assessed.
CFIA inspectors will immediately stop operations at any point if concerns are identified.
The CFIA noted it will be convening its expert advisory committee to conduct a thorough review of events and circumstances related to the XL Foods Inc. E. coli O157:H7 investigation. The committee is comprised of experts from private sector and academia, and is supported by technical experts from the CFIA, Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
The results of the review will be made public once completed, the agency said.
‘Our Government will continue to provide the Canadian Food Inspection Agency with the resources it needs to help safeguard the health and safety of Canadians and their families,’ Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in a statement today. ‘The Safe Food for Canadians Act is just one more way we are helping keep Canadian families safe. I encourage all Members of Parliament to give this important Act their full attention and pass it expeditiously.’
The Safe Food for Canadians Act was approved by Senate last week.
The Canadian Meat Council (CMC) welcomed the announcement in a press release today.
‘The Canadian meat inspection system is among the most stringent in the world and this country’s meat processors work cooperatively with Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to ensure that the highest standards for food safety are maintained,’ CMC chair Ray Price stated. ‘In the case of E. coli 0157:H7, the industry is committed to preventing the contamination of beef products through comprehensive food safety management systems in beef slaughtering and processing establishments.’
The council added that it will organize educational workshops open to member as well as non-member participants on the best management practices and the most effective tools for the control of E. coli. Further initiatives by the industry may follow after the CFIA has completed and released its final report on the circumstances that gave rise to the XL recall.
As announced last week, the facility will now be managed by JBS USA, a division of Brazilian-based protein giant JBS SA. The company entered a management agreement with XL Foods on Wednesday, Oct. 17. The agreement gives JBS the option to purchase the facility and other XL Foods assets for US$100 million.