Recall a beef for consumers, producers
Concerns over E. coli prompt expanding beef recall
The Alberta facility at the centre of a nation-wide beef recall is facing a temporary license suspension after failing to demonstrate that it “consistently and effectively” implemented agreed upon controls, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced on Sept. 27.
The CFIA stated in a press release it first detected E-coli in products produced from an Alberta facility supplied by XL Foods Inc. on Sept. 4. According to the CFIA release, all products currently at the plant are “under CIFA detention and control” and will be released only after being tested for E. coli; the company is currently not able to export to the U.S.
The CFIA has since issued at least eight recalls for XL Foods beef products, which included items sold under the Sobeys brand, the Co-op, and items prepared for Loblaw Inc., which operates Extra Foods.
Local stores have pulled the recalled meat products off their shelves, with Mike Lupien, director of communications for Sobeys West, stating that Sobeys was aware of the investigation into the XL Foods plant before the recall was even expanded to include Sobeys products, and had already begun to take action.
Bob Scott, general manager of the St. Paul and District Co-op said the Co-op received notification about the recall a couple of weeks ago, and kept up with the expanding list of recalled products to pull them immediately off shelves.
“It sounds like it still isn’t resolved. We’re hearing that there might be further recalls,” he said on Friday morning, noting that people can get up-to-date information on recalls at the store’s website at www.coopconnection.com. Any customers who have purchased products that have since been recalled can bring items back to the store for a full refund, he said, adding, “We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers.”
As of last Friday, Alberta Health Services was investigating nine cases of E. coli infection, and has stated at least in four cases, the sickness resulted from people purchasing E. coli-tainted steaks from an Edmonton Costco facility. However, AHS investigators had not confirmed links to the XL Foods plant as of Friday.
Signs of E-coli infection include stomach cramps and diarrhea which may contain blood. People infected generally recover, with fewer than 10 per cent developing hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication from E. coli infection.
Most who develop HUS fully recover, but there is an increased risk for the very old and the very young to not completely recover, and it is possible that fatality can result.
Any time there is a national and/or international recall of meat products, it does pose a concern for beef producers, notes local feedlot operator Gerard Dargis.
And though he noted this issue is unlikely to have the same crippling effect as the BSE crisis, he predicted, “The prices will be going down because of a lack of kill-capacity in western Canada.”
Dargis felt there will be ongoing concerns until XL Foods resumes normal operations, and people are no longer worried about potential E. coli contamination, adding, “It’s another black eye on Canadian beef.”
Ron Zazulak, with the St. Lina Ag Society, noted last week that while he’s not too concerned about the recall and has eaten steaks without worrying about getting sick, the recall does have an effect on choices. The Ag Society was originally going to serve meatballs at a function at its hall recently, but decided to serve pork and chicken in light of the recall. “We’re not going to touch beef for a while,” he said, adding, “We are firm and solid supporters of the beef industry, all of us – but it’s a precaution.”
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