New E.coli case confirmed in B.C. as XL Foods recall reaches Hong Kong
Published Monday, October 8, 2012 8:58AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, October 8, 2012 11:19PM EDT
A new case of E.coli in British Columbia has been linked to the XL Foods beef recall as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency prepares to evaluate the Alberta meat processing plant at the centre of the tainted meat scare.
Meanwhile, meat products originating from the XL Foods plant have been recalled in Hong Kong, the latest country to be affected by the largest beef recall in Canadian history.
The CFIA confirmed Monday that a case of E. coli on Vancouver Island is the same strain that was observed in meat products from the Brooks, Alta. XL Foods Inc. plant. The CFIA will begin an inspection of the temporarily shuttered plant Tuesday to determine if it has implemented a number of controls and procedures to improve food safety.
During a teleconference Monday, Dr. Gregory Taylor of the Public Health Agency of Canada said the E.coli patient in B.C. has fully recovered after contracting E. coli 0157:H7, the same strain found at the XL Food plant and in 10 other people across Canada -- seven in Alberta, two in Quebec and one in Newfoundland.
CFIA officials said inspectors will now evaluate the company’s readiness to re-open and check that a number of actions to improve the plant’s maintenance and sanitation have been made.
Based on the findings of their evaluation, a recommendation will be made to senior CFIA officials on what the next steps in the XL Foods investigation should be, said Dr. Harpreet Kochhar of the CFIA.
Kochhar said the evaluation comes after XL Foods contacted the CFIA in writing and communicated their readiness to resume operations.
Kochhar stressed that there was no timeline or expected date on when the plant will reopen. He also said the plant’s license will remain suspended during the evaluation process and that all XL Foods products remain under the agency’s control.
In an online statement, the Hong Kong Centre for Food Safety confirmed last week that some raw beef from the plant had been brought into the country and supplied to several local distributors to sell. The centre suspended all imports of XL products made on or after Aug. 24.
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."
That works out to over 1,340,000 kilograms of beef from the XL Foods Inc. plant.
It was U.S. border inspectors that first discovered the presence of E. coli-contaminated beef in early September. That led to what has now become the largest ever Canadian food recall, with roughly 1,700 products now on the list.
On Sunday, 24 new items were added to the CFIA’s list of recalled products.
The lengthy list recently expanded to include products such as steaks, lean ground beef, roasts, sausages and oxtail. Stores throughout Canada have been identified by the CFIA as sellers of the recalled products, including major grocers such as Superstore, Sobeys, No Frills, Quality Foods, Metro and Walmart.
However, the CFIA warned that the recall also includes unlabelled and unbranded beef products that are not identified on the agency’s website. The agency noted that these products are typically sold at smaller retailers, local meat markets and butcher shops.
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