June 5 The contamination of beef at a Canadian
processing plant last year that sickened 18 people was caused by
a lax attitude toward food safety by government and plant staff,
an independent report on the incident said.
Canada's largest-ever beef recall at 4,000 tonnes spread
across the country and most U.S. states, after the XL Foods
plant in Brooks, Alberta produced beef tainted with E. coli
bacteria. It came just four years after an outbreak of listeria
bacteria killed 23 Canadians who ate tainted meat produced by
Maple Leaf Foods.
"We found a relaxed attitude towards applying mandatory
(food safety) procedures," said the report by a retired
veterinarian, doctor and food safety expert. Staff employed by
the plant and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) were at
fault, the review said.
It said XL Foods, privately owned at the time, was
overwhelmed, having never practised a mock recall of that scale.
The report, issued on Wednesday, found that the
contamination likely occurred after an animal entered the plant
and passed the bacteria onto equipment that the review said was
not being cleaned adequately.
The government, which was sharply criticized for its
handling of the crisis, said it will spend C$16 million ($15.5
million) over three years to establish "inspection verification
teams" that conduct unannounced checks of food plants.
That move addresses one of the report's 30 recommendations,
which also include better training of CFIA inspection staff.
Ottawa has already increased testing and requirements for
documentation to better control E. coli, and said it will
address all remaining recommendations.
The largest beef-processing plants in Canada are owned by
Cargill Ltd and JBS USA Holdings Inc, which
bought the former XL Foods plant after the recall.