Sarah Schmidt – Postmedia News

Oct. 23, 2012

OTTAWA – The plant at the centre of the Canada’s largest ever beef recall has regained its licence to slaughter cattle and process carcasses for the Canadian market.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency made the announcement Tuesday, nearly a full month after the federal agency yanked the licence of XL Foods Inc.’s plant in Brooks, Alta. for failing to manage E. coli risks.

Tainted meat from the plant was distributed across the country and sold under store brands of some of the largest retailers and grocers, including Costco, Sobeys and Loblaws. Sixteen people in four provinces became sick.

The facility, now under new management after Edmonton-based Nilsson Brothers Inc. made a deal last week with a subsidiary of Brazil-based JBS S.A., will now ramp up to normal operations. The 430,000 sq.-ft. facility is set up to slaughter between 3,800 and 4,000 cattle daily.

In a statement, CFIA said, “Effective today, the plant will be allowed to progressively resume slaughter and processing operations under enhanced CFIA surveillance and increased testing protocols.”

“Additional CFIA inspectors-beyond the 46 normally assigned full-time to the plant-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 statement said.

Problems for XL Foods began on Sept. 4 when beef trimmings from the plant tested positive for E. coli during routine CFIA testing. On the same day, U.S. authorities informed CFIA of a positive E. coli test on beef trimmings from the XL Foods plant at the Montana border. The U.S. shut the border to beef from the XL Foods plant on Sept. 13, two weeks before CFIA suspended the plant’s licence to produce meet for the Canadian market.

The U.S. border remains closed for now, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has indicated the process to relist the plant as eligible to import to the U.S. would begin with a nod from the CFIA that the plant meets the agency’s conditions to its satisfaction.

Limited operations resumed at the plant on Oct. 11 so CFIA could assess the company’s new E. coli control plan was working as designed. None of that meat was permitted to enter the market until a full reopening. The 5,100 carcasses processed were already in the plant when it was shut down, and were tested for E. coli.

XL Foods devised a new E. coli control plan after the CFIA failed to notice during routine inspections that the plant recall had not properly implemented its own plan to control food safety risks.

While CFIA said it had verified the company’s plan to control risks, the plan, known as a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), “was not being fully implemented or regularly updated,” the agency said. In 2005, HACCP became mandatory in all federally registered meat plants in Canada and is considered the cornerstone of a food-safety system.

This fundamental gap meant the plant wasn’t managing properly its E. coli risks, CFIA said, citing “inconsistent trend analysis on positive samples and no process to include test results from client establishments.”

© Postmedia News
Sarah Schmidt – Postmedia News

Oct. 23, 2012

OTTAWA – The plant at the centre of the Canada’s largest ever beef recall has regained its licence to slaughter cattle and process carcasses for the Canadian market.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency made the announcement Tuesday, nearly a full month after the federal agency yanked the licence of XL Foods Inc.’s plant in Brooks, Alta. for failing to manage E. coli risks.

Tainted meat from the plant was distributed across the country and sold under store brands of some of the largest retailers and grocers, including Costco, Sobeys and Loblaws. Sixteen people in four provinces became sick.

The facility, now under new management after Edmonton-based Nilsson Brothers Inc. made a deal last week with a subsidiary of Brazil-based JBS S.A., will now ramp up to normal operations. The 430,000 sq.-ft. facility is set up to slaughter between 3,800 and 4,000 cattle daily.

In a statement, CFIA said, “Effective today, the plant will be allowed to progressively resume slaughter and processing operations under enhanced CFIA surveillance and increased testing protocols.”

“Additional CFIA inspectors-beyond the 46 normally assigned full-time to the plant-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 statement said.

Problems for XL Foods began on Sept. 4 when beef trimmings from the plant tested positive for E. coli during routine CFIA testing. On the same day, U.S. authorities informed CFIA of a positive E. coli test on beef trimmings from the XL Foods plant at the Montana border. The U.S. shut the border to beef from the XL Foods plant on Sept. 13, two weeks before CFIA suspended the plant’s licence to produce meet for the Canadian market.

The U.S. border remains closed for now, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has indicated the process to relist the plant as eligible to import to the U.S. would begin with a nod from the CFIA that the plant meets the agency’s conditions to its satisfaction.

Limited operations resumed at the plant on Oct. 11 so CFIA could assess the company’s new E. coli control plan was working as designed. None of that meat was permitted to enter the market until a full reopening. The 5,100 carcasses processed were already in the plant when it was shut down, and were tested for E. coli.

XL Foods devised a new E. coli control plan after the CFIA failed to notice during routine inspections that the plant recall had not properly implemented its own plan to control food safety risks.

While CFIA said it had verified the company’s plan to control risks, the plan, known as a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), “was not being fully implemented or regularly updated,” the agency said. In 2005, HACCP became mandatory in all federally registered meat plants in Canada and is considered the cornerstone of a food-safety system.

This fundamental gap meant the plant wasn’t managing properly its E. coli risks, CFIA said, citing “inconsistent trend analysis on positive samples and no process to include test results from client establishments.”

© Postmedia News
Sarah Schmidt – Postmedia News

Oct. 23, 2012
Sarah Schmidt – Postmedia News

Oct. 23, 2012

OTTAWA – The plant at the centre of the Canada’s largest ever beef recall has regained its licence to slaughter cattle and process carcasses for the Canadian market.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency made the announcement Tuesday, nearly a full month after the federal agency yanked the licence of XL Foods Inc.’s plant in Brooks, Alta. for failing to manage E. coli risks.

Tainted meat from the plant was distributed across the country and sold under store brands of some of the largest retailers and grocers, including Costco, Sobeys and Loblaws. Sixteen people in four provinces became sick.

The facility, now under new management after Edmonton-based Nilsson Brothers Inc. made a deal last week with a subsidiary of Brazil-based JBS S.A., will now ramp up to normal operations. The 430,000 sq.-ft. facility is set up to slaughter between 3,800 and 4,000 cattle daily.

In a statement, CFIA said, “Effective today, the plant will be allowed to progressively resume slaughter and processing operations under enhanced CFIA surveillance and increased testing protocols.”

“Additional CFIA inspectors-beyond the 46 normally assigned full-time to the plant-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 statement said.

Problems for XL Foods began on Sept. 4 when beef trimmings from the plant tested positive for E. coli during routine CFIA testing. On the same day, U.S. authorities informed CFIA of a positive E. coli test on beef trimmings from the XL Foods plant at the Montana border. The U.S. shut the border to beef from the XL Foods plant on Sept. 13, two weeks before CFIA suspended the plant’s licence to produce meet for the Canadian market.

The U.S. border remains closed for now, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has indicated the process to relist the plant as eligible to import to the U.S. would begin with a nod from the CFIA that the plant meets the agency’s conditions to its satisfaction.

Limited operations resumed at the plant on Oct. 11 so CFIA could assess the company’s new E. coli control plan was working as designed. None of that meat was permitted to enter the market until a full reopening. The 5,100 carcasses processed were already in the plant when it was shut down, and were tested for E. coli.

XL Foods devised a new E. coli control plan after the CFIA failed to notice during routine inspections that the plant recall had not properly implemented its own plan to control food safety risks.

While CFIA said it had verified the company’s plan to control risks, the plan, known as a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), “was not being fully implemented or regularly updated,” the agency said. In 2005, HACCP became mandatory in all federally registered meat plants in Canada and is considered the cornerstone of a food-safety system.

This fundamental gap meant the plant wasn’t managing properly its E. coli risks, CFIA said, citing “inconsistent trend analysis on positive samples and no process to include test results from client establishments.”

© Postmedia News
Kristy Kirkup – The Toronto Star

Oct. 30, 2012

OTTAWA – Opposition parties reiterated calls for an outside audit of Canada’s food safety system on Tuesday – a recommendation also made by an independent investigator who probed the 2008 listeria outbreak.

“If it (audit) was required then, following the crisis, I am of the belief that those kinds of things should be repeated, not annually, but at least every five years so we do have a clear picture of what is going on,” said Liberal MP Frank Valeriote.

Valeriote is a member of the Commons agriculture committee which is currently combing over food safety reforms proposed by the government in the Safe Food for Canadians Act.

The government says its legislation will give meat inspectors more power to compel food producers to provide standardized information and the bill received praise on Wednesday by groups including the Canadian Meat Council and the Retail Council of Canada.

Although opposition parties say they are on board with the bill, both the NDP and Grits want an independent audit to evaluate where the system stands at present.

Sheila Weatherhill, who was appointed to conduct an investigation into the listeriosis outbreak which killed 22 Canadians, recommended an independent audit to “accurately determine the demand on its inspection resources and the number of required inspectors.”

“Sheila Weatherill called for (an) audit…to see if the compliance verification system actually truly works and how to resource it,” said NDP agriculture critic Malcolm Allen. “She said that’s what they really should do and so the department actually”¦did a review.”

Allen says an audit would differ from a “review” because it would determine current needs and demands.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it will be “convening its expert advisory committee” to review what led to the recent E.coli calamity at Alberta’s XL Foods but there are no plans to launch an outside audit on Canada’s food safety system.

© The Toronto Sun
Kristy Kirkup – The Toronto Star

Oct. 30, 2012

OTTAWA – Opposition parties reiterated calls for an outside audit of Canada’s food safety system on Tuesday – a recommendation also made by an independent investigator who probed the 2008 listeria outbreak.

“If it (audit) was required then, following the crisis, I am of the belief that those kinds of things should be repeated, not annually, but at least every five years so we do have a clear picture of what is going on,” said Liberal MP Frank Valeriote.

Valeriote is a member of the Commons agriculture committee which is currently combing over food safety reforms proposed by the government in the Safe Food for Canadians Act.

The government says its legislation will give meat inspectors more power to compel food producers to provide standardized information and the bill received praise on Wednesday by groups including the Canadian Meat Council and the Retail Council of Canada.

Although opposition parties say they are on board with the bill, both the NDP and Grits want an independent audit to evaluate where the system stands at present.

Sheila Weatherhill, who was appointed to conduct an investigation into the listeriosis outbreak which killed 22 Canadians, recommended an independent audit to “accurately determine the demand on its inspection resources and the number of required inspectors.”

“Sheila Weatherill called for (an) audit…to see if the compliance verification system actually truly works and how to resource it,” said NDP agriculture critic Malcolm Allen. “She said that’s what they really should do and so the department actually”¦did a review.”

Allen says an audit would differ from a “review” because it would determine current needs and demands.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it will be “convening its expert advisory committee” to review what led to the recent E.coli calamity at Alberta’s XL Foods but there are no plans to launch an outside audit on Canada’s food safety system.

© The Toronto Sun
Dave Dormer – Calgary Sun

Nov. 4, 2012

CALGARY – Days after the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta., resumed operations, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has asked that new corrective measures be put in place.

“As would be expected in a facility that has not been in regular operation for some time, there have been some observations made by CFIA that resulted in the CFIA issuing new, corrective action requests,” read an update released Sunday.

Those observations include condensation on pipes in the tripe room, water in a sanitizer not being maintained at a high temperature, meat-cutting areas not being adequately cleaned, and sanitizing chemical solution not being used in mats for cleaning employees’ boots.

The company complied with the request immediately, said the release, by sending potentially contaminated product for rendering, bringing sanitizers to compliance, cleaning the meat-cutting area and adding sanitizer to the boot mats.

The CFIA also asked the company to provide a corrective action plan outlining how the issues will be avoided in the future, which it did.

As part of a previously scheduled audit of the Canadian inspection system, members of the U.S. Food Inspection Agency visited the plant on Friday and their findings will be released at a later date.

The plant was ordered closed by CFIA in late September following an outbreak of E. coli and resumed operations Oct. 29 after its operations were taken over by JBS USA.

Since the outbreak, 17 people across Canada have fallen ill due to exposure to E. coli linked to the XL Foods facility.

© Toronto Sun
Dave Dormer – Calgary Sun

Nov. 4, 2012

CALGARY – Days after the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta., resumed operations, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has asked that new corrective measures be put in place.

“As would be expected in a facility that has not been in regular operation for some time, there have been some observations made by CFIA that resulted in the CFIA issuing new, corrective action requests,” read an update released Sunday.

Those observations include condensation on pipes in the tripe room, water in a sanitizer not being maintained at a high temperature, meat-cutting areas not being adequately cleaned, and sanitizing chemical solution not being used in mats for cleaning employees’ boots.

The company complied with the request immediately, said the release, by sending potentially contaminated product for rendering, bringing sanitizers to compliance, cleaning the meat-cutting area and adding sanitizer to the boot mats.

The CFIA also asked the company to provide a corrective action plan outlining how the issues will be avoided in the future, which it did.

As part of a previously scheduled audit of the Canadian inspection system, members of the U.S. Food Inspection Agency visited the plant on Friday and their findings will be released at a later date.

The plant was ordered closed by CFIA in late September following an outbreak of E. coli and resumed operations Oct. 29 after its operations were taken over by JBS USA.

Since the outbreak, 17 people across Canada have fallen ill due to exposure to E. coli linked to the XL Foods facility.

© Toronto Sun
Dave Dormer – Calgary Sun

Nov. 4, 2012

 
Dave Dormer – Calgary Sun

Nov. 4, 2012

CALGARY – Days after the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta., resumed operations, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has asked that new corrective measures be put in place.

“As would be expected in a facility that has not been in regular operation for some time, there have been some observations made by CFIA that resulted in the CFIA issuing new, corrective action requests,” read an update released Sunday.

Those observations include condensation on pipes in the tripe room, water in a sanitizer not being maintained at a high temperature, meat-cutting areas not being adequately cleaned, and sanitizing chemical solution not being used in mats for cleaning employees’ boots.

The company complied with the request immediately, said the release, by sending potentially contaminated product for rendering, bringing sanitizers to compliance, cleaning the meat-cutting area and adding sanitizer to the boot mats.

The CFIA also asked the company to provide a corrective action plan outlining how the issues will be avoided in the future, which it did.

As part of a previously scheduled audit of the Canadian inspection system, members of the U.S. Food Inspection Agency visited the plant on Friday and their findings will be released at a later date.

The plant was ordered closed by CFIA in late September following an outbreak of E. coli and resumed operations Oct. 29 after its operations were taken over by JBS USA.

Since the outbreak, 17 people across Canada have fallen ill due to exposure to E. coli linked to the XL Foods facility.

© Toronto Sun
Dave Dormer – Calgary Sun

Nov. 4, 2012

 
Jamie Komarnicki – Calgary Herald

Nov. 5, 2012

CALGARY — Days after a beef processing plant shuttered by an E. coli scare resumed slaughtering cattle under new management, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has raised new safety concerns at the facility.

The move suggests the XL Foods plant’s new managers — meat-packing giant JBS-USA — could face tough decisions on infrastructure upgrades as the facility gets back to running at full speed under the close watch of federal inspectors, a food safety expert said Sunday.

“Over the long run, I suspect management over at XL Foods in Brooks will need to recognize that the plant needs a complete overhaul. It needs to be modernized,” said Sylvain Charlebois, University of Guelph professor in food distribution and policy.

“With the dollar at par, it’s the perfect time for any company to invest in improving its facilities and buy technology out of the U.S., import new machines to improve productivity.

“They’re going to have make some major decision down the road.”

According to a statement this weekend from the CFIA, the XL Foods plant’s food and safety controls are being “effectively managed” overall.

However, the federal agency has issued four new corrective action requests since the facility reopened last week, stemming from concerns over cleaning in the meat cutting areas, pipe condensation in the tripe room and lack of sanitizing chemicals for mats to clean workers’ boots.

According to the CFIA statement, some hitches are to be expected at a facility that hasn’t been in regular operation for some time.

But the agency has now ordered JBS-USA to send “potentially contaminated product” for rendering and to sanitize the meat-cutting areas and boot mats.

JBS-USA couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday.

According to the CFIA, the company has submitted a plan to address the concerns “and appropriate measures were implemented immediately.”

“The CFIA is reviewing the company’s long-term and preventive measures and will verify that they are effectively implemented,” the CFIA statement said.

The CFIA gave the XL Foods plant the green light to resume operating last week after it was closed Sept. 27 amid a massive beef recall.

Public health officials say 17 cases of E. coli poisoning have been linked to the XL Foods plant.

Amid the recall, JBS-USA took over management of the plant, with an exclusive option to buy it down the road. The company promised to introduce the same food safety system at the Brooks plant that it employs at all its U.S. processing facilities, and offered fresh training to the XL Foods employees before resuming operations.

UFCW Local 401 president Doug O’Halloran said Sunday he’s confident the new managers will do what it takes to keep the plant operating safely. He said the new corrective action requests signal the CFIA inspectors are alert to potential problems and empowered to do their job properly.

“There’s no doubt it’s good the CFIA is on the job for a change and I think this speaks well,” O’Halloran said.

“JBS said in meetings they want to take all precautions and all advice they get from various parties to ensure this is going to be the safest product going out of a meat plant in North America.

Meanwhile, according to the CFIA, the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service was on site Friday as auditors visited the plant as part of a “previously scheduled audit of the Canadian inspection system.” The U.S. findings are expected to be released by American authorities at a later date.

© The Calgary Herald

Dave Dormer – Calgary Sun

Nov. 4, 2012

CALGARY – Days after the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta., resumed operations, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has asked that new corrective measures be put in place.

“As would be expected in a facility that has not been in regular operation for some time, there have been some observations made by CFIA that resulted in the CFIA issuing new, corrective action requests,” read an update released Sunday.

Those observations include condensation on pipes in the tripe room, water in a sanitizer not being maintained at a high temperature, meat-cutting areas not being adequately cleaned, and sanitizing chemical solution not being used in mats for cleaning employees’ boots.

The company complied with the request immediately, said the release, by sending potentially contaminated product for rendering, bringing sanitizers to compliance, cleaning the meat-cutting area and adding sanitizer to the boot mats.

The CFIA also asked the company to provide a corrective action plan outlining how the issues will be avoided in the future, which it did.

As part of a previously scheduled audit of the Canadian inspection system, members of the U.S. Food Inspection Agency visited the plant on Friday and their findings will be released at a later date.

The plant was ordered closed by CFIA in late September following an outbreak of E. coli and resumed operations Oct. 29 after its operations were taken over by JBS USA.

Since the outbreak, 17 people across Canada have fallen ill due to exposure to E. coli linked to the XL Foods facility.

© Toronto Sun
Dave Dormer – Calgary Sun

Nov. 4, 2012

 
Jamie Komarnicki – Calgary Herald

Nov. 5, 2012

CALGARY — Days after a beef processing plant shuttered by an E. coli scare resumed slaughtering cattle under new management, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has raised new safety concerns at the facility.

The move suggests the XL Foods plant’s new managers — meat-packing giant JBS-USA — could face tough decisions on infrastructure upgrades as the facility gets back to running at full speed under the close watch of federal inspectors, a food safety expert said Sunday.

“Over the long run, I suspect management over at XL Foods in Brooks will need to recognize that the plant needs a complete overhaul. It needs to be modernized,” said Sylvain Charlebois, University of Guelph professor in food distribution and policy.

“With the dollar at par, it’s the perfect time for any company to invest in improving its facilities and buy technology out of the U.S., import new machines to improve productivity.

“They’re going to have make some major decision down the road.”

According to a statement this weekend from the CFIA, the XL Foods plant’s food and safety controls are being “effectively managed” overall.

However, the federal agency has issued four new corrective action requests since the facility reopened last week, stemming from concerns over cleaning in the meat cutting areas, pipe condensation in the tripe room and lack of sanitizing chemicals for mats to clean workers’ boots.

According to the CFIA statement, some hitches are to be expected at a facility that hasn’t been in regular operation for some time.

But the agency has now ordered JBS-USA to send “potentially contaminated product” for rendering and to sanitize the meat-cutting areas and boot mats.

JBS-USA couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday.

According to the CFIA, the company has submitted a plan to address the concerns “and appropriate measures were implemented immediately.”

“The CFIA is reviewing the company’s long-term and preventive measures and will verify that they are effectively implemented,” the CFIA statement said.

The CFIA gave the XL Foods plant the green light to resume operating last week after it was closed Sept. 27 amid a massive beef recall.

Public health officials say 17 cases of E. coli poisoning have been linked to the XL Foods plant.

Amid the recall, JBS-USA took over management of the plant, with an exclusive option to buy it down the road. The company promised to introduce the same food safety system at the Brooks plant that it employs at all its U.S. processing facilities, and offered fresh training to the XL Foods employees before resuming operations.

UFCW Local 401 president Doug O’Halloran said Sunday he’s confident the new managers will do what it takes to keep the plant operating safely. He said the new corrective action requests signal the CFIA inspectors are alert to potential problems and empowered to do their job properly.

“There’s no doubt it’s good the CFIA is on the job for a change and I think this speaks well,” O’Halloran said.

“JBS said in meetings they want to take all precautions and all advice they get from various parties to ensure this is going to be the safest product going out of a meat plant in North America.

Meanwhile, according to the CFIA, the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service was on site Friday as auditors visited the plant as part of a “previously scheduled audit of the Canadian inspection system.” The U.S. findings are expected to be released by American authorities at a later date.

© The Calgary Herald

Jamie Komarnicki – Calgary Herald

Nov. 5, 2012

CALGARY — Days after a beef processing plant shuttered by an E. coli scare resumed slaughtering cattle under new management, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has raised new safety concerns at the facility.

The move suggests the XL Foods plant’s new managers — meat-packing giant JBS-USA — could face tough decisions on infrastructure upgrades as the facility gets back to running at full speed under the close watch of federal inspectors, a food safety expert said Sunday.

“Over the long run, I suspect management over at XL Foods in Brooks will need to recognize that the plant needs a complete overhaul. It needs to be modernized,” said Sylvain Charlebois, University of Guelph professor in food distribution and policy.

“With the dollar at par, it’s the perfect time for any company to invest in improving its facilities and buy technology out of the U.S., import new machines to improve productivity.

“They’re going to have make some major decision down the road.”

According to a statement this weekend from the CFIA, the XL Foods plant’s food and safety controls are being “effectively managed” overall.

However, the federal agency has issued four new corrective action requests since the facility reopened last week, stemming from concerns over cleaning in the meat cutting areas, pipe condensation in the tripe room and lack of sanitizing chemicals for mats to clean workers’ boots.

According to the CFIA statement, some hitches are to be expected at a facility that hasn’t been in regular operation for some time.

But the agency has now ordered JBS-USA to send “potentially contaminated product” for rendering and to sanitize the meat-cutting areas and boot mats.

JBS-USA couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday.

According to the CFIA, the company has submitted a plan to address the concerns “and appropriate measures were implemented immediately.”

“The CFIA is reviewing the company’s long-term and preventive measures and will verify that they are effectively implemented,” the CFIA statement said.

The CFIA gave the XL Foods plant the green light to resume operating last week after it was closed Sept. 27 amid a massive beef recall.

Public health officials say 17 cases of E. coli poisoning have been linked to the XL Foods plant.

Amid the recall, JBS-USA took over management of the plant, with an exclusive option to buy it down the road. The company promised to introduce the same food safety system at the Brooks plant that it employs at all its U.S. processing facilities, and offered fresh training to the XL Foods employees before resuming operations.

UFCW Local 401 president Doug O’Halloran said Sunday he’s confident the new managers will do what it takes to keep the plant operating safely. He said the new corrective action requests signal the CFIA inspectors are alert to potential problems and empowered to do their job properly.

“There’s no doubt it’s good the CFIA is on the job for a change and I think this speaks well,” O’Halloran said.

“JBS said in meetings they want to take all precautions and all advice they get from various parties to ensure this is going to be the safest product going out of a meat plant in North America.

Meanwhile, according to the CFIA, the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service was on site Friday as auditors visited the plant as part of a “previously scheduled audit of the Canadian inspection system.” The U.S. findings are expected to be released by American authorities at a later date.

 

Dave Dormer – Calgary Sun

Nov. 4, 2012

CALGARY – Days after the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta., resumed operations, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has asked that new corrective measures be put in place.

“As would be expected in a facility that has not been in regular operation for some time, there have been some observations made by CFIA that resulted in the CFIA issuing new, corrective action requests,” read an update released Sunday.

Those observations include condensation on pipes in the tripe room, water in a sanitizer not being maintained at a high temperature, meat-cutting areas not being adequately cleaned, and sanitizing chemical solution not being used in mats for cleaning employees’ boots.

The company complied with the request immediately, said the release, by sending potentially contaminated product for rendering, bringing sanitizers to compliance, cleaning the meat-cutting area and adding sanitizer to the boot mats.

The CFIA also asked the company to provide a corrective action plan outlining how the issues will be avoided in the future, which it did.

As part of a previously scheduled audit of the Canadian inspection system, members of the U.S. Food Inspection Agency visited the plant on Friday and their findings will be released at a later date.

The plant was ordered closed by CFIA in late September following an outbreak of E. coli and resumed operations Oct. 29 after its operations were taken over by JBS USA.

Since the outbreak, 17 people across Canada have fallen ill due to exposure to E. coli linked to the XL Foods facility.

© Toronto Sun
Dave Dormer – Calgary Sun

Nov. 4, 2012

 
Jamie Komarnicki – Calgary Herald

Nov. 5, 2012

CALGARY — Days after a beef processing plant shuttered by an E. coli scare resumed slaughtering cattle under new management, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has raised new safety concerns at the facility.

The move suggests the XL Foods plant’s new managers — meat-packing giant JBS-USA — could face tough decisions on infrastructure upgrades as the facility gets back to running at full speed under the close watch of federal inspectors, a food safety expert said Sunday.

“Over the long run, I suspect management over at XL Foods in Brooks will need to recognize that the plant needs a complete overhaul. It needs to be modernized,” said Sylvain Charlebois, University of Guelph professor in food distribution and policy.

“With the dollar at par, it’s the perfect time for any company to invest in improving its facilities and buy technology out of the U.S., import new machines to improve productivity.

“They’re going to have make some major decision down the road.”

According to a statement this weekend from the CFIA, the XL Foods plant’s food and safety controls are being “effectively managed” overall.

However, the federal agency has issued four new corrective action requests since the facility reopened last week, stemming from concerns over cleaning in the meat cutting areas, pipe condensation in the tripe room and lack of sanitizing chemicals for mats to clean workers’ boots.

According to the CFIA statement, some hitches are to be expected at a facility that hasn’t been in regular operation for some time.

But the agency has now ordered JBS-USA to send “potentially contaminated product” for rendering and to sanitize the meat-cutting areas and boot mats.

JBS-USA couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday.

According to the CFIA, the company has submitted a plan to address the concerns “and appropriate measures were implemented immediately.”

“The CFIA is reviewing the company’s long-term and preventive measures and will verify that they are effectively implemented,” the CFIA statement said.

The CFIA gave the XL Foods plant the green light to resume operating last week after it was closed Sept. 27 amid a massive beef recall.

Public health officials say 17 cases of E. coli poisoning have been linked to the XL Foods plant.

Amid the recall, JBS-USA took over management of the plant, with an exclusive option to buy it down the road. The company promised to introduce the same food safety system at the Brooks plant that it employs at all its U.S. processing facilities, and offered fresh training to the XL Foods employees before resuming operations.

UFCW Local 401 president Doug O’Halloran said Sunday he’s confident the new managers will do what it takes to keep the plant operating safely. He said the new corrective action requests signal the CFIA inspectors are alert to potential problems and empowered to do their job properly.

“There’s no doubt it’s good the CFIA is on the job for a change and I think this speaks well,” O’Halloran said.

“JBS said in meetings they want to take all precautions and all advice they get from various parties to ensure this is going to be the safest product going out of a meat plant in North America.

Meanwhile, according to the CFIA, the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service was on site Friday as auditors visited the plant as part of a “previously scheduled audit of the Canadian inspection system.” The U.S. findings are expected to be released by American authorities at a later date.

© The Calgary Herald

Jamie Komarnicki – Calgary Herald

Nov. 5, 2012

CALGARY — Days after a beef processing plant shuttered by an E. coli scare resumed slaughtering cattle under new management, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has raised new safety concerns at the facility.

The move suggests the XL Foods plant’s new managers — meat-packing giant JBS-USA — could face tough decisions on infrastructure upgrades as the facility gets back to running at full speed under the close watch of federal inspectors, a food safety expert said Sunday.

“Over the long run, I suspect management over at XL Foods in Brooks will need to recognize that the plant needs a complete overhaul. It needs to be modernized,” said Sylvain Charlebois, University of Guelph professor in food distribution and policy.

“With the dollar at par, it’s the perfect time for any company to invest in improving its facilities and buy technology out of the U.S., import new machines to improve productivity.

“They’re going to have make some major decision down the road.”

According to a statement this weekend from the CFIA, the XL Foods plant’s food and safety controls are being “effectively managed” overall.

However, the federal agency has issued four new corrective action requests since the facility reopened last week, stemming from concerns over cleaning in the meat cutting areas, pipe condensation in the tripe room and lack of sanitizing chemicals for mats to clean workers’ boots.

According to the CFIA statement, some hitches are to be expected at a facility that hasn’t been in regular operation for some time.

But the agency has now ordered JBS-USA to send “potentially contaminated product” for rendering and to sanitize the meat-cutting areas and boot mats.

JBS-USA couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday.

According to the CFIA, the company has submitted a plan to address the concerns “and appropriate measures were implemented immediately.”

“The CFIA is reviewing the company’s long-term and preventive measures and will verify that they are effectively implemented,” the CFIA statement said.

The CFIA gave the XL Foods plant the green light to resume operating last week after it was closed Sept. 27 amid a massive beef recall.

Public health officials say 17 cases of E. coli poisoning have been linked to the XL Foods plant.

Amid the recall, JBS-USA took over management of the plant, with an exclusive option to buy it down the road. The company promised to introduce the same food safety system at the Brooks plant that it employs at all its U.S. processing facilities, and offered fresh training to the XL Foods employees before resuming operations.

UFCW Local 401 president Doug O’Halloran said Sunday he’s confident the new managers will do what it takes to keep the plant operating safely. He said the new corrective action requests signal the CFIA inspectors are alert to potential problems and empowered to do their job properly.

“There’s no doubt it’s good the CFIA is on the job for a change and I think this speaks well,” O’Halloran said.

“JBS said in meetings they want to take all precautions and all advice they get from various parties to ensure this is going to be the safest product going out of a meat plant in North America.

Meanwhile, according to the CFIA, the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service was on site Friday as auditors visited the plant as part of a “previously scheduled audit of the Canadian inspection system.” The U.S. findings are expected to be released by American authorities at a later date.

 

Independent auditor to begin food safety review

Amanda Stephenson – Calgary Herald

Oct. 29, 2012

CALGARY — More than 2,000 workers are back on the job Monday in Brooks, as the city’s biggest employer, the XL Foods meat-packing plant, resumes operations.

“Morale is good,” said Doug O’Halloran, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401. “Of course, they (the workers) are disappointed about the money they’ve lost. . . . But at least there’s light at the end of the tunnel. They’re eager to get back.”

The workers, who were laid off Oct. 13 — more than two weeks after the XL plant was shuttered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency — spent part of last week in training sessions organized by the plant’s new management, JBS-USA.

The company has stated it will introduce the same food safety system at the Brooks plant that it employs at all its U.S. processing facilities. Part of that will involve offering ongoing training to workers year-round, instead of just at the time of hiring.

O’Halloran said workers are pleased, believing additional food safety precautions not only protect the public, but also protect them from the kind of job disruptions they have seen this month.

“They’re hoping it will be a much better place to work. Morale-wise, and in terms of worker safety and food safety,” O’Halloran said.

The XL Foods plant, the centre of an E. coli scare that has resulted in the largest beef recall in Canadian history, had its licence reinstated by the CFIA last week.

JBS, which has not only taken over management of the plant but also has the exclusive option to purchase it from embattled current owners, Nilsson Bros. Inc., has stated its priority is to get the plant up and running, get everyone back to work, and start producing safe product.

JBS has commissioned an independent auditor, who is expected to be on site Monday, to begin a complete food safety review of the XL plant. Inspectors from the U.S. Department of Agriculture are also expected to visit the facility this week. They will need to sign off before the plant can resume exporting meat.

The plant will begin production in a limited capacity at first, and JBS has given no indication when it may begin full-scale operations.

Brooks Mayor Martin Shields said he hopes his community — which has suffered economically as a result of one-in-six residents being out of work — is nearing the end of its ordeal.

“Everyone’s got their fingers crossed behind their back,” Shields said.

But since many of the workers will have missed a month’s worth of paycheques before payday finally rolls around two weeks from now, it will be a while until life in Brooks gets back to normal.

“The food bank is still one of the critical spots,” Shields said, adding most local service agencies still expect to see heightened demand for several more weeks.

News that the plant is close to resuming operations is also a relief for Alberta’s cattle industry. The 43,000-square-foot facility at Brooks processes about one-third of Canada’s beef production.

© The Calgary Herald