Meat recall grows to cover every major supermarket in Quebec
Published Sunday, September 30, 2012 6:16PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, October 1, 2012 7:06PM EDT
MONTREAL—Canada’s food inspectors are warning that a massive recall of meat from Alberta-based XL Foods now affects nearly every meat-eating Canadian as the list of products possibly tainted with E. coil continues to grow.
“We hope people understand that this impacts nearly everyone who shops at supermarkets in Canada,” said Guy Gravelle, a spokesman for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. “This is one of the first of this size. This is pretty big.”
On Sunday, XL Foods voluntarily added dozens of new products to the list, now covering nearly 400 different types of ground beef and cuts of steaks—including many sold in Quebec.
“The ultimate goal is to make the list as comprehensive as possible,” said Gravelle, who suspects that the list could grow longer.
The CFIA pulled the license for the Brooks, Alberta plant on Thursday after four people reported falling ill after consuming products infected with the possibly deadly bacteria.
In a statement issued on Sunday, XL Foods announced that it would “implement enhanced food safety protocols” as it worked to complete the recall with the federal regulator. Gravelle couldn’t comment on what those protocols could be.
While inspectors first detected a problem at the Brooks plant on Sept. 4, CFIA officials found risks of more products becoming contaminated as they investigated the site.
“The first health hazard alert went out in mid-September, at that time the focus was on ground beef,” explained Gravell. “As the agency has done its investigation and tried to trace back the source of the contaminants, we have slowly started to find additional products that should have been added onto the recall list.
“That’s why the recall has expended so much.”
While few consumers may have heard of XL Foods, the meat is sold under dozens of brands, including Costco’s Kirkland Signature. Many of the unbranded packages of meat sold at supermarket deli counters also come from XL Foods.
“This is one of the largest beef producers in the country, if there is a closure at one of their plants it impacts the entire country,” said Gravelle.
With consumer confidence shaken, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association has warned that the price of steers and heifers in Alberta has started to drop.
A list of the products that consumers are asked not to eat and that retailers are asked not to sell, all manufactured between Aug. 24 and Sept. 5, is available on the CFIA’s website.
The Quebec retailers impacted by the recall include IGA, Maxi, Metro, Loblaws, Provigo, Super C, Costco, SuperValu, Marche Richelieu, Pasquier, Presto, Club Entrepot, Bonichoix and Walmart.
Meat infected with E. coli might not smell or look any different from uninfected meat, CFIA asks that people double-check before buying meat at supermarkets.