Canada remains calm in face of growing recalls

By MJ Deschamps in Calgary

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Canada Cowboy Xl foods Beef Livestock

Canada remains calm in face of growing recalls
Despite an expanded list of recalls announced this week by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), on beef products from Alberta-based XL Foods, the industry does not expect Canada’s largest-ever beef recall to damage domestic and foreign consumer demand.

Alberta cattle rancher and vice-president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Dave Solverson said that the industry is “reasonably optimistic” that the recalls will not have a serious, long-term impact on Canada’s beef industry.

“Canadian beef has a good reputation, and even the XL [Foods] plant has a good safety record,” he said. “This was an unfortunate incident, and should actually show consumers that [overall], the system works, as the problem was caught…this is a huge recall, but long-term, I think our industry will rebound.”

The latest list of recalls – now expanded to 1,500 different products – was issued October 3, and includes items such as ground beef, steaks and roasts and beef breakfast sausage.

Major retailers all across Canada and the US have been pulling XL Foods products off their shelves since September 16, when the CFIA warned the public that ground beef products from the Brooks, Alberta plant may be contaminated with E-coli. Production at the facility has since been suspended, with the CFIA having temporarily suspended its licence to operate.

A spokesperson from the CFIA told​ that thus far, there have been four confirmed cases of E-coli - all in the province of Alberta – which can be directly linked to the consumption of beef products originating from XL Foods.

The beef processing giant has been extremely apologetic over the recalls, and has stated that it is “implementing changes to food safety systems to exceed existing high standards and regain the trust of Canadian consumers.”​ According to XL Foods, the plant will re-open under “intensified and enhanced testing protocols”.​ The Brooks plant will also introduce remote video checks, increased computer monitoring and extension of water washes, plus additional quality control personnel added to each shift, according to the company.

Solverson said this should mitigate consumer fears: “I think consumers will trust the industry, especially with the robust food safety system that goes along with it.”

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