UPDATE: Where’s the Recall? Tainted Canadian Beef Presently In the U.S.; Deregulation Plans Underway Would Bring More
Statement from Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch
Washington, D.C. “Early this morning, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) expanded, for the second time since September 20, its “Public Health Alert” for tainted beef products currently being sold in the U.S. imported from XL Foods in Canada (specifically from the processing plant Establishment 38 in Brooks, Alberta). The agency did not issue any recall announcements, but it has listed several supermarket chains that have voluntarily initiated recalls of these products in selected states. Safeway also issued an expanded recall announcement last night, adding beef products in its stores in Idaho to its recall, but that information is not reflected on the FSIS recall distribution list.
“In the meantime, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) last night expanded its recalls of products from that plant for the seventh time since September 16. In none of the announcements by either FSIS or CFIA has the number of pounds of products subject to the alerts or recalls been identified. Why? FSIS has admitted that it knew on September 3, 2012, that meat from an XL Foods plant in Alberta, Canada tested positive for the deadly pathogen E. coli 0157:H7. The microbiological sample was taken at an FSIS border inspection station in Sweetgrass, Montana. Subsequent samples of meat from the same plant also tested positive, which moved FSIS, on September 13, to delist that plant from eligibility to export to the U.S. On September 16, CFIA announced a recall of meat products produced at that plant.
“In its alerts, the FSIS also revealed that meat from the XL plant had been exported to U.S. meat processors located in California, Michigan, Nebraska Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin, where it probably remains on store shelves today. Ironically, this same Canadian plant was involved in a similar situation in August 2000, and the FSIS issued a recall announcement for the products that had been exported to the U.S.
“Meanwhile, the Obama Administration and the Harper Government in Canada have been plotting to eliminate the very border inspection program that tipped off authorities that there was a major problem brewing with the products originating from the XL plant. The “‘Beyond the Border”’ initiative would deregulate certain requirements so that trade could be facilitated between the two countries. The pilot project to implement this initiative is still slated to begin on September 30.
“On September 18, Food & Water Watch and two other non-profit consumer organizations wrote a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack urging him to stop putting U.S. consumers at risk and stop this initiative. The current situation dictates that the pilot cannot be allowed to proceed.”
This statement was updated with new developments from a statement released by Food & Water Watch on Friday, Sept. 21.
Contact: Anna Ghosh, 415-293-9905, aghosh(at)fwwatch(dot)org