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XL Foods Beef Recall Largest in Canadian History

XL Foods Inc. Beef Recall 2012 Timeline

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The XL Foods Inc. beef recall is now considered to be the largest in Canadian history and on Sunday the company announced an expanded recall of all beef products produced from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5. The recall list is so extensive that customers are advised to ask whether the beef they are buying came from XL Foods.  The E. coli contamination was first discovered on Sept. 4 and there has been an ongoing investigation and list of recalls ever since. The following is a timeline of the series of events and discoveries as they have unfolded over the past three weeks.

XL Beef Recall Timeline

Sept. 4

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) found a beef sample that tested positive for E. coli. This prompted an investigation to identify if any of the affected products were already in the market place. The CFIA determined that the products never reached consumers – no public alert or recall was announced. On the same day, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) notified CFIA that they had found a beef sample that tested positive for E. coli – the product was disposed of in the US. The CFIA began the investigation to find the source of the E. coli contamination.

Sept. 5

The CFIA issued a corrective action request to XL Foods Inc. and CFIA inspections continued to supervise plant operations.

Sept. 6

The CFIA requested both distribution and testing results from all beef products that were produced on Aug. 24 and 28 – which are the days the contaminated products were made. 

Sept. 7

As part of the corrective action request, XL Foods was required to strengthen sampling and testing of beef products. The company was formally requested to also provide an information sheet that outlined product details, distribution, sampling results and hand over the detailed report to CFIA authorities by Sep 10.

Sept. 8 & 9

The CFIA officials continued to work with XL Foods management to meet requirements and continued to provide oversight over plant activities.

Sept. 10 & 11

Based on information provided through the investigation, CFIA officials identified Aug. 24, 28 and Sep. 5 as dates for further investigation. CFIA inspectors continued to supervise plant operations and added more staff monitoring in certain areas of the operation, such as the de-hiding area of the plant.

Sept. 12

The FSIS notified CFIA that they had found two more E. coli beef samples linked to XL Foods which were discovered through routine sample testing – the affected samples were then destroyed at the border.  Based on the US findings ,CFIA conducted a rigorous inspection of the plant to determine the source of the contamination.  This review went over the plants preventative control measures, food-safety policies, laboratory methodology and equipment.

Sept. 13 to 16

The CFIA announced that XL Foods could no longer export beef products to the US. There was no Canadian recall at this time. Based on CFIA’s investigation findings the Agency began to recall beef for the dates of Au. 24, 28 and Sept. 5. The Agency also began identifying and contacting companies and grocery stores where the beef had been either distributed or sold.

Sept. 16

The CFIA in partnership with XL Foods issued health hazard alerts warning the public that XL beef products had been contaminated with E. coli for the dates of Aug. 24, 28 and Sept. 5 - as those dates correlated with the sample findings. At this time, the CFIA also requested additional company production and distribution data.

Sept. 17

The CFIA activated its national emergency operations centre to strengthen coordination of response activities and information from the various government and health departments.  The CFIA also issues an update health hazard alert which identified more products.

Sept. 18

The CFIA issued five additional corrective action requests for XL Foods to comply with. The Agency issued a second public health hazard alert. Also at this time, the Public Health Agency of Canada notified CFIA and Alberta Health Services that they were investigating five cases of E. coli illness. However, at this time there was no link between the illnesses and XL Foods beef products.

Sept. 19

The CFIA announced a third health hazard update and identified more products.

Sept. 20

The CFIA issued a fourth health hazard update.

Sept. 21

The CFIA issued a fifth health hazard update. The CFIA also identified two additional dates – Aug. 27 and Aug. 29 that were also at risk of E. coli contamination. At this time the company made it public that they were recalling beef from both Canada and the US on these two additional dates.

Sept. 22

The CFIA identified products that were related to the two additional days of production – Aug. 27 and Aug. 29.

Sept. 24

The FSIS notified CFIA of a beef sample that tested positive for E. coli in California. However, CFIA had already recalled beef from that production date – Aug. 27.

Sept. 25

 The CFIA announced an updated health hazard alert, identifying more products that were from Aug. 27 and Aug. 28. The Alberta Health Services also advised CFIA that they had linked four illnesses to steaks purchased from a Costco store in Edmonton. At this time there was a recall of steaks from Costco stores.

Sept. 26

The FSIS announced a public health alert based on the beef that tested positive for E. coli in California.

Sept. 27

The CFIA announced that they had temporarily suspended licence for XL Foods Inc. operations. All products are currently under CFIA detention. The company will not resume operations until CFIA is confident that the plant is meets requirements and is safe.


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