• XL Foods allowed to re-open facility
  • Progressive operations allowed under CFIA surveillance
Last month, the US halted imports from XL Foods plant due to findings of E.coli bacteria

Last month, the US halted imports from XL Foods' plant due to findings of E.coli bacteria

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has allowed XL Foods to re-open the facility at the centre of an e. coli scare after an assessment of its food safety controls.

XL Foods has had its suspension lifted by CFIA and is now licensed to operate, although the Alberta plant will only be allowed to "progressively" resume slaughter and processing operations under "enhanced CFIA surveillance and increased testing protocols".

Last month, the US halted imports from XL Foods' plant due to findings of E.coli bacteria. Since then, food officials have allowed the company to partially resume operations while it continues to review the facility.

The facility has since been taken over by Brazilian beef firm JBS, which entered into an agreement that involved it taking management of "certain Canadian operations" of XL Foods last week.

In its latest update, the Public Health Agency of Canada said four provinces and territories had been affected with 16 cases of illnesses, with Alberta reporting the most cases at seven.

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Following a thorough assessment of food safety controls at Establishment 38, XL Foods Inc., the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has lifted the suspension on the facility's licence to operate. Effective today, the plant will be allowed to progressively resume slaughter and processing operations under enhanced CFIA surveillance and increased testing protocols.

Since October 11, CFIA inspectors have been closely monitoring limited, in-house operations, including the cutting and processing of the remaining carcasses in the plant. Following this thorough examination, the Agency determined that the company's E. coli O157:H7 controls, as well as sanitation and meat hygiene procedures, are being implemented appropriately.

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 CFIA's enhanced oversight activities include:

two additional inspection resources, in addition to the current complement, will focus on certain inspection tasks at key stages of production,
increasing testing for E. coli O157:H7, over and above the company's already established testing protocol, which sees all trim lots sampled and tested, and
holding products until all E. coli O157:H7 test results have been assessed.
CFIA inspectors will immediately stop operations at any point if concerns are identified.

Canada's food safety system remains among the best in the world, but events such as this underscore the need for continuous review and improvement.

The CFIA will be convening its Expert Advisory Committee to conduct a thorough review of events and circumstances related to the XL Foods Inc. E. coli O157:H7 investigation. The Committee is comprised of experts from private sector and academia, and is supported by technical experts from the CFIA, Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

The results of the review will be made public once completed.

As a responsible, science-based regulator, the CFIA regularly reviews its policies and procedures to ensure they are aligned with current science and best practices.

For more information on the investigation:

visit www.inspection.gc.ca/recalls_xlfoods
call 1-800-442-2342


Original source: Canadian Food Inspection Agency