XL Foods plant allowed to partially reopen
Published Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:19PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 11, 2012 10:29PM EDT
The XL Foods meat processing plant at the centre of the E. coli has been allowed to resume limited operations. But meat will not be leaving the plant any time soon.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Thursday it conducted a review of the plant on Tuesday and determined that all areas have been cleaned and sanitized.
It said the plant will now be allowed to process the 5,100 carcasses currently in the facility that have tested negative for E. coli 0157:H7.
But it said that the resulting meat will be under “detention.” It will not be allowed to leave the plant until the agency is assured that plant controls are effectively and consistently managing E. coli risks. Only then, will the plant be allowed to fully re-open.
It gave no timeline for when that might happen.
The agency CFIA says by taking a staged approach to the re-opening of the plant, its experts will be able to fully assess how the facility is working to safeguard against E. coli contamination.
“Beginning today, CFIA officials will monitor the plant’s food safety control in action by allowing the plant to process carcasses under continued strict conditions,” the agency said in a news release.
“The plant will not be permitted to resume normal operation until the CFIA confirms in writing that it is safe to do so,” the agency said.
Problems with E. coli contamination at the plant have resulted in the recall of more than 1,800 beef products. The plant was shut down on Sept. 27.
Twelve people in four provinces have been sickened with the same strain of E. coli found at the facility.
The nationwide beef recall was expanded again Wednesday evening, to encompass more products sold in stores in New Brunswick and Quebec, including beef jerky and corned beef.
Meanwhile, the union representing workers at the Brooks, Alta. plant is calling for a public inquiry into the E. coli outbreak, to determine what exactly went wrong.
Doug O’Halloran, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401, told a news conference Wednesday that XL Foods management hasn’t listened to workers’ concerns about safety at the plant.
He said the union has had longstanding concerns about temporary foreign workers and line speed at the plant, as well as the need for whistleblower protection.
In response, XL Foods issued a news release saying it has “an open door policy for its workers and has always welcomed their input on plant operations.”