CFIA inspects Brooks beef processing plant
Published Tuesday, October 9, 2012 6:24AM MDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 9, 2012 6:38PM MDT
Inspectors with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are examining the sanitary conditions and equipment at the XL Foods plant in Brooks as part of its investigation into an E. coli outbreak that forced the recall of hundreds of products across North America.
The CFIA says inspectors at the facility are beginning a “detailed assessment” but that does not necessarily mean the plant’s licence to operate will be reinstated.
Based on what they observe, inspectors will make a recommendation to CFIA senior officials. The plant will only reopen if employees demonstrate that they can properly manage food safety risks.
Production at XL Foods has been suspended since late September following the discovery of E. coli at the plant.
Tuesday’s CFIA inspection follows a request from XL to have its license reinstated.
Public health officials have linked 11 E. coli illnesses in four provinces to the outbreak.
Initial inspection reports from the CFIA found inadequate E. coli screening policies among other issues such as foul smells emitting from drains, sanitation fluids dripping onto beef, workers not wearing beard nets, and a whole list of other problems.
Dr. Harpreet Kochar with the CFIA says the agency needs to do this to certify the readiness of the facility and grant its appeal to open. “The tour will actually verify the state of readiness of the plant, in terms of their corrective action plan. Have they addressed the issues identified? They walk them through the plant to see how maintenance and sanitation are addressed. How is the plant actually readying itself?”
Officials say the inspection is merely the first step in a long process and that XL Foods is still quite a long way from full operation.
After the inspection on Tuesday, CFIA still says that they don't know when the plant will reopen.
The inspection comes on the heels of more products being added to the recall list.
The CFIA added raw beef and ready-to-eat products sold in B.C. under the Africa Trading and Hanahreum Mart Brands.
Both products are associated with the same XL Foods recall that spread across the country over the past few weeks.
On Monday, the latest case of E. coli linked to the recall was confirmed in B.C. and meat products from XL Foods have been recalled in Hong Kong.
The news of the Hong Kong recall came as the U.S. significantly increased its tally of the number of products that were imported from the XL Foods plant. The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service said in a statement that it has nearly tripled initial estimates.
"Previously, FSIS reported that approximately 890,000 pounds of boneless beef trim were received by U.S. firms from XL Foods, Inc.," said the statement.
"After conducting effectiveness checks, FSIS now estimates that approximately 1.1 million pounds of trim and approximately 1.4 million pounds of primal and sub-primal cuts used to produce steaks, roasts, mechanically tenderized steaks and roasts, and ground beef were received by U.S. firms."
XL Foods issued a statement on Tuesday saying it welcomes the inspection and says says it has finished implementing Corrective Action requests that were issued by the CFIA.
"We have worked diligently to address all Corrective Actions and want to thank our employees who have worked tirelessly to prepare us for this inspection. We will continue to work cooperatively with the CFIA as they conduct due diligence and verification of our intensified and enhanced food safety systems," said Co-CEO Brian Nilsson.
Click here to read the full statement from XL Foods.
With files from CTVNews.ca