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No Single Source of E coli at XL Foods Inc., CFIA Says

USDA updates public health alert: eight illnesses now reported

Update: Eight confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7 are now being investigated in Alberta, including three in Calgary, Canadian health officials told The Calgary Herald.

Also overnight, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) updated its Public Health Alert for Imported Canadian Beef from XL Foods.

It says FSIS has reason to believe, based on information provided by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), that beef from cattle slaughtered during the period associated with the recall was produced under insanitary conditions that resulted in a high event period (a period when the trim from carcasses exhibited an unusually high frequency of positive findings for the possible presence of E. coli O157:H7).

Therefore, all products that are non-intact, such as trim and ground beef subject to the recall, as well as all cuts of beef that will be processed into non-intact product, are considered adulterated by USDA.

FSIS testing of raw boneless beef trim product from Canadian Establishment 038, XL Foods, Inc., and confirmed positive for E. coli O157:H7 on September 3, 2012. After alerting the CFIA of the positive results, the agencies launched an investigation including additional testing, and CFIA announced a recall by XL Foods, Inc. of a variety of ground beef products on Sept. 16. FSIS also issued a Public Health Alert (PHA) on September 20, 2012, provided updated information on September 21, 2012, conducted effectiveness checks this week, and notified the public once more through today’s PHA.

The CFIA has expanded the scope of the recall to now include the production dates of Aug. 24, Aug. 27, Aug. 28 and Aug. 29, 2012 and FSIS has determined that a slaughter date of August 23, 2012 is common to all four production dates.

The products subject to the Canadian recall were distributed to U.S. establishments in the following states: California, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

XL Foods Inc. did not have documentation showing it regularly reviewed or made necessary updates to its beef processing facility in Edmonton, Alberta, according to the CFIA.

XL is at the center of an ever-expanding beef recall in the U.S. and Canada over possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination that has so far involved more than 250 pounds.

CFIA said it has not identified any single factor as a source of the E. coli contamination during its recent review of XL operations. It said the combination of several deficiencies could have played a role.

“By themselves, each of these findings would not typically signal an immediate concern during the course of normal inspection activities,” the CFIA report said.

CFIA’s review focused on XL’s preventive control plan.

“The detection of E. coli in slaughter facilities is not uncommon, and plants are expected to have adequate measures in place to monitor higher than normal detection rates and modify control measures accordingly,” it said. “This trend analysis was not always conducted consistently at the facility.”

In addition, deviations were noted 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 regularly reviewed or made necessary updates to its control plan for the facility.

XL Foods Inc. has developed a response plan. The CFIA has accepted the company’s plan and will monitor corrective actions to verify that they have been implemented effectively.

CFIA has issued seven alerts identifying products that are affected by this recall.

CFIA continues to collect information from suppliers, distributors and retailers, so there is a possibility that additional products could be identified and further expansions could be issued.

The agency is working with its provincial and federal public health counterparts. To date, health authorities have not established a link between this recall and any illnesses.

CFIA is working to identify additional products affected by this recall and conduct effectiveness checks to verify that affected product has been removed from the marketplace.

The in-depth review focused on the plant’s preventative control measures, food safety policies and procedures, laboratory methodology and equipment and quality systems.

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