A public audit has cleared Alberta, Canada, meat packers of profiteering from C$402m (US$306.4m) federal-provincial benefit packages distributed during the country’s recent BSE crisis.

The probe concluded that packers legitimately tripled their profits during this time because supplies of cattle exceeded the packing plants’ capacity and the domestic and Canada’s limited bovine meat export-market remained strong. The provincial auditor general blamed the scheme for paying meat packers when they did not need support.

Last spring, the Canadian House of Commons agriculture committee threatened fines of $250,000 against Alberta’s Cargill and Lakeside meat packers for refusing to provide detailed financial records to forensic auditors.