Sunday, 30 September 2012

'I really hope people will support our beef industry': Agriculture Minister amid beef recall

Linda Hoang, CTV Edmonton 

More beef products and stores have been added to a growing nation-wide beef recall over concerns of E. coli contamination from products by Alberta-based XL Foods Inc. But on Saturday, Alberta’s Agriculture Minister pleaded with consumers to continue to support the beef industry.

Co-op stores are the latest in a growing list of retailers that may be carrying beef products containing E. coli.

In an effort to restore consumer confidence, Alberta’s Agriculture Minister on Saturday bought beef at a Co-op store in Camrose, Alta.

“We have a serious problem with one plant. It’s a big plant, but there are many other plants and there all kinds of safe beef everywhere around the province and I really hope people will support our beef industry,” said Verlyn Olson, the province’s agriculture minister.

On Saturday, XL Food Inc. issued a voluntary recall of “whole muscle cuts” of beef, including steaks and roasts and more store names carrying the recalled products was also released including Co-op, Wal-Mart, Metro, Food Basics, Steakhouse Angus Select and a number of stores in Quebec.

It was the latest in at least eight recalls over that have been issued since Sept. 16 and more than 250 products have been recalled, a number that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says will likely grow.

So far there have been nine reported cases of E. coli-poisoning in Alberta – four of which are linked to steaks sold at a north east Edmonton Costco. The meat came from XL Foods in Brooks, Alta., but health officials are still not sure whether the bacteria was picked up at that plant, or at the Costco store.

The CFIA says tracking the source of the bacteria can be very difficult – and that meat isn’t the only source of E. coli.

“We have had recalls associated with E. coli in leafy greens, we’ve seen it in apple juice, we’ve seen it in a number of different products, dairy and meat,” said Dr. Brian Evans with the CFIA.

On Thursday the agency suspended XL Food’s operating license that will remain in effect untilt he company meets requirements set out by the CFIA.

“To date the company has not properly implemented agreed upon corrective actions and has not presented an accepted plan to address long term issues,” Evans said.

Products at the plant are under CFIA “detention and control” and will be released after being tested for E. coli.

Earlier in the week, the U.S. had banned imports from XL and pulled the company’s beef from stores in 30 states.

E. coli fears have local cattle ranchers worried. Cattle prices have already dropped considerably – with cows now selling for hundreds less than they were just a few days ago.

“They’re falling, falling fast,” said Ivan Potts with Sekura Auctions. “And it’s going to fall faster for the cattle industry across the province.”

The CFIA says if you have concerns about the beef you've bought - throw it out or take it back to the store, use a meat thermometer to cook your beef to a safe temperature - for ground beef that's 71 C, 160 F - and avoid cross-contamination with food.

With files from Amanda Anderson
Original Article Here

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