Brooks, Alta. – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) says XL Foods Inc., the company at the centre of Canada’s largest beef recall, could reopen this week.
CFIA inspectors are now overseeing the cutting of more than 5,000 carcasses from cattle slaughtered in the days before the CFIA suspended the plant’s operating licence. These cattle tested negative for E. coli. As they observe the cutting, the inspectors are also assessing the plant’s food safety protocols.
The plant’s temporary restricted licence to process these carcasses expires Oct. 19, reports the CalgaryHerald.com, but the plant could complete the processing by Oct. 17.
The CFIA had issued the temporary licence in order to observe and assess the company’s new E. coli control plan and determine how effective and consistent it is, says the CalgaryHerald.com.
If all goes well the plant could see progressive reopenings of the other activities in the plant, says the CBC.ca. But there is no final word yet on when the plant will be fully operational.
Over the weekend, XL Foods halted the inspection when it laid off all of its 2,000 employees. The company then backtracked and recalled 800 staff to continue processing the carcasses.
At least 12 cases of the potentially deadly bacterium have been confirmed, says the CBC.ca, seven cases in Alberta, one in Newfoundland and Labrador, one in British Columbia and three in Quebec — according to the CFIA.
The community of more than 13,000 in Brooks, Alta. is hoping the plant will reopen soon.
The CBC.ca reports that the entire community is affected with so many people from the plant out of work. And ranchers in the area are also concerned about cattle prices, but they’re more likely to survive any fallout.
Brooks city council and County of Newell officials met with several XL Foods employees – many of them from foreign countries – to figure out how to support the community, says the CBC.ca.