Newspaper article The Canadian Press

XL Foods Says Safety Problems Fixed at Alberta Beef Plant, Regrets Illnesses

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

XL Foods Says Safety Problems Fixed at Alberta Beef Plant, Regrets Illnesses

Article excerpt

XL Foods says beef plant problems fixed

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EDMONTON - The owners of an Alberta plant behind a massive recall of beef products say they have fixed the problems that forced food safety officials to shut the meat packer down over E. coli concerns.

Brian Nilsson, co-CEO of XL Foods Inc., said the company welcomes Canadian Food Inspection Agency staff who were in Brooks, Alta., on Tuesday for a pre-inspection of the facility that processes more than one-third of Canada's beef.

"We have worked diligently to address all corrective actions," Nilsson said in a release.

"We will continue to work co-operatively with the CFIA as they conduct due diligence and verification of our intensified and enhanced food systems."

Problems cited by inspectors after the CFIA revoked the plant's operating licence Sept. 27 included management of E. coli risk, maintenance and sanitation. The U.S. stopped accepting shipments of beef from the company Sept. 13.

XL Foods also made reference to people who have become sick from eating beef, but did not directly mention the 11 people in four provinces who were infected by a strain of E. coli that has been linked to the plant.

"All the members of the XL community deeply regret the illnesses caused by the consumption of beef products," read the release. "Our thoughts are with the affected people at this time."

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said the pre-inspection is only the first of several stages XL Foods must go through before the plant will be allowed to resume operating. He said no date has been set for it to reopen.

"We want to make sure that this is safe beyond reproach," he said. "It will not be allowed to reopen until the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed that."

In recent weeks more than 1,800 XL Foods products have been recalled across Canada along with more than 1.1 million kilograms of beef exported to the U.S. and 20 other countries.

Martin Unrau, president of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, said the E. coli scare has given Canadian beef a black eye with some consumers despite what he called the high quality of cattle raised by producers.

Unrau said the plant closure is preventing many of the association's 83,000 members from sending their prime cattle and older cull cows to market. …

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