Statement from Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch
Washington, D.C. – “After knowing for 17 days that they had a potential public health crisis on their hands, the management of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) finally issued a ‘Public Health Alert’ at 9:00 p.m. on September 20, 2012 regarding tainted beef that had crossed the border from Canada. Stunningly, they have yet to issue a recall on that meat despite the fact that the Canadian authorities have issued a recall, and that meat is presently in at least eight U.S. states.
“In yesterday’s Alert, the FSIS 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, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced a recall of meat products produced at that plant. The recall has been expanded four times since then – on September 17, 18, 19, and 20.
“In its Alert 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 remains on store shelves today.
“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.
“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. After this fiasco, if ‘Beyond the Border’ is allowed to proceed, it would simply be beyond credulity.”
Contact: Darcey Rakestraw, 202-683-2467; drakestraw(at)fwwatch(dot)org.