Ottawa – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has suspended XL Foods Inc.’s licence.
XL Foods has been at the centre of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in products produced at a facility in Alberta that were supplied by XL Foods.
The outbreak was first detected on Sept. 4. On that same day, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) contacted the CFIA to report a positive E. coli O157:H7 sample in beef trimmings also from XL Foods.
The CFIA says it very quickly verified that no affected product was in the marketplace and immediately launched an investigation. The CFIA also recalled several products.
The CFIA says its investigation didn’t identify one single factor that would lead to E. coli O157:H7 contamination, but found a combination of several deficiencies played a role.
Individually, these deficiencies wouldn’t signal an immediate concern during the course of normal inspection activities.
The CFIA goes onto say that detecting E. coli in slaughter facilities is not uncommon. But plants are expected to take measures to monitor higher than normal detection rates and modify control measures accordingly.
This procedure wasn’t always followed through and consistent at this facility.
In addition, the CFIA noted deviations from the company’s documented E. coli O157:H7 control measures and sampling and testing procedures. The company was unable to demonstrate through its documentation that it was consistently and effectively implementing its agreed upon control program.
During this period, the CFIA enhanced its onsite inspection activities, including additional oversight of testing for E. coli.
XL Foods took initial steps to ensure the safety of food being produced and at the time committed to additional steps to deal with all issues and prevent recurrence.
However, based on information provided by XL Foods on Sept. 26, as well as through CFIA inspector oversight, the CFIA determined that these deficiencies had not been completely corrected.
To date, the company has not adequately implemented agreed-upon corrective actions and has not presented acceptable plans to address longer-term issues.
Once the CFIA suspended the company’s licence, all the products currently at the plant came under CFIA detention and control.
The CFIA says the products will only be released after being tested for E. coli O157:H7.
XL Foods has also expanded its voluntary recall of raw meat produced on Aug. 24, 27, 28, 29 and Sept. 5.
The CFIA will continue to immediately alert consumers as additional products are identified. This will lead to a series of recall announcements over the next few days as implicated products are identified and traced.
The CFIA says XL Foods will not resume operations until the company has demonstrated that it has fully implemented the required corrective actions.