The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) understands that effective today, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has made a decision to withdraw Establishment 38’s licence to process cattle. This is the XL Foods facility at Brooks, AB.
Establishment 38 has been the subject of an investigation surrounding a beef recall over the past several days due to findings of E. coli O157:H7.
While the CCA has not been a party to the specific details of the investigation, we understand that CFIA officials have deemed it a necessary component of Establishment 38’s corrective actions to temporarily suspend its license to operate its cattle and meat processing operations.
The CCA understands that when CFIA food safety officials determine that all necessary corrective actions have been undertaken and demonstrated to be fully implemented at Establishment 38, then they will re-instate their licence to process cattle and beef.
What does this announcement mean?
Establishment 38 will not be processing any cattle effective immediately for an indefinite period of time.
This decision does not affect other Canadian facilities’ ability to process cattle nor does it affect Canadian live cattle exports to the US.
Why did CFIA make the decision?
We understand that it was deemed critical to suspend this one establishment’s operations until all corrective actions are taken.
Essentially, this action should isolate Establishment 38 while they implement their response plan and CFIA monitors their corrective actions.
It will also act as a precautionary measure to ensure that beef produced at other facilities is not perceived negatively by association.
Is the recall getting worse? Should consumers not eat Canadian beef?
Absolutely not. These very strict measures demonstrate the vigor of the Canadian meat inspection system to take action to ensure that any issues are addressed and the public is safe.
Of course, this event is a good opportunity to remind consumers of the importance of safe food preparation practices. E.coli O157:H7 can be present in raw meat, poultry, unpasteurized milk and fruit juices, raw greens and vegetables, and water contaminated with human or animal waste. The thorough cooking of ground meats kills the pathogen and is an important line of defence in safeguarding human health.
Consumers can safeguard their health through proper hygiene, effective food preparation and thorough cooking of ground meats. Consumers should remember to:
• Cook meat to a safe internal temperature. For ground beef it is 71C/160F.
• Wash hands before and after handling food and frequently while cooking, especially after handling raw meat and poultry.
• Avoid cross contamination of food by washing utensils, plates and cutting boards that have come into contact with raw meat and poultry, in hot, soapy water.
• Wash all raw fruits and vegetables before you prepare and eat them.
• Refrigerate or freeze foods promptly.
What does the temporary stoppage at Establishment 38 mean for Canadian cattle producers?
Establishment 38 is an important purchaser of cattle in the Canadian market and with their absence as a processor, we expect to see a temporary impact in the live cattle market as a result of this action.
However, as Canadian and U.S. cattle supplies are currently quite low, there is ample processing capacity and cattle demand at other facilities in Canada and the U.S. to process animals that would have gone to Establishment 38, so we would expect the price impact on cattle to be minimal and for a short period of time.