More Bad Meat

The XL foods recall list keeps growing. Yet, the CFIA president Greorge Da Pont was happy to point out how the 40 inspectors and 6 veterinarians at the Brooks plant were doing a great job.

Self regualtion in the meat industry is a joke an dangerous. CFIA’s powers and staff have been reduced significantly.

George Da Pont said Wednesday the CFIA had issued seven corrective action requests to the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta., and was monitoring them before the agency decided to shut the plant down.

It appears the plant wasn’t always using one of the measures that Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz pointed to Wednesday as a “safety valve” for the Canadian meat industry.

“When we find a shipment that has a contaminant like E. coli, such as we’ve found, we do what’s called bracketing,” Ritz said Wednesday in Calgary.

“We found that there were, when we did the further investigations, a few instances where the bracketing process that the minister described was not properly followed… Specifically, it seems that there were a few instances that we could document where they did not divert either the [carcass] before or after.”

“We asked on the 6th of September…. We did ask for all of the information. There was a delay in getting it. And in fact that is one of the provisions that we have put in the new food safety act [Bill S–11],” Da Pont said.

“We have limited authority to compel immediate documentation. There is a provision in that [bill] to authorize us to do that.”

In fact

Canada’s food inspection agency admitted Wednesday that, on some days in late August and early September, over five per cent of the beef produced at an Alberta plant was likely testing positive for a potentially fatal bacteria.

Under industry norms and voluntary U.S. guidelines, that level of contamination should have prompted XL Foods Inc. to divert every single kilogram of meat to cooking or a landfill.

But instead, possibly tainted fresh product — now part of the country’s biggest ever beef recall — was shipped to restaurants and grocery stores across the continent.

Currenly the government is in the process of whitewashing – tabling new rules for companies not to follow. But, I think a deeper intropspection is needed. Is the process of large scale processing actually safe ? Would it be better to have fewer animals processed closer to the farm and distributed locally ? Polyface farms illustrates a different production model.

Of course none of this will make industry or society question the ethics and the health of the meat production system – some days it is better being a vegetarian.

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