The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Tuesday lifted the Sept. 27 license suspension that closed the XL Foods beef processing plant at Brooks, Alberta.
The re-licensing is effective immediately, allowing the plant to ramp up slaughter and processing operations with more CFIA surveillance and increased testing protocols.
Canada’s largest beef recall and an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 that has sickened 16 people were linked to the Alberta plant before operations were shut down, idling 2,200 workers and limiting market options for Alberta cattlemen.
The earliest the plant could partially resume operations is likely to be Monday. Employees are being called to attend training sessions being scheduled for later this week, according to union officials.
Also under a separate agreement, the private held XL Foods Inc. is turning over management of the plant to Greeley, CO-based JBS,USA, which will have six months to decide whether to purchase the facility.
In a written statement, CFIA said it has determined that adequate E. coli O157:H7 controls, sanitation and meat hygiene procedures can all be implemented correctly when the plant resumes operations.
CFIA also said additional inspectors, above and beyond the 46 permanently assigned to the facility, will be on hand to monitor slaughter procedures and strengthen food safety controls.
When production resumes, two of those additional inspectors will be assigned to key stages, testing for E. coli will be increased and product held pending testing results are returned.
CFIA also said plant operations may be halted again at any time inspectors have doubts about something going on at the plant.
Finally, the food safety agency said it is convening an Expert Advisory Committee to “conduct a thorough review of events and circumstances related to the XL Foods Inc. E. coli O157LH7 investigation.” The expert committee includes members from the private sector and academia and it will get technical support from CFIA and other agencies.© Food Safety News