Beef recall expands as MPs hold emergency debate

by | Oct 4, 2012 | News

Parliament this week held an emergency debate as the XL Foods beef recall continued. COURTESY DAVID BENBENNICK

By Helen Surgenor

The list of recalled beef products from Alberta’s XL Foods expanded again Thursday morning, less than 24 hours after Parliament held an emergency debate on the plant’s E. coli outbreak.

During Wednesday evening’s debate, opposition MPs called for an independent audit of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Global News Reports.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture responded by saying hundreds of new inspectors were hired for the food inspection agency in the last six years, and its budget has been increased by 20 per cent, Global News reported.

The Senate amended a food safety bill Thursday to mandate that a review of food inspectors and their resources be conducted every five years by the federal minister of agriculture.

LISTEN:  Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz address public

An outbreak of this magnitude can occur because the government prefers large-scale meat processing plants that can be cheaply monitored, said David Meli, an executive butcher who sources local meat for The Healthy Butcher.

“In the Canadian government’s eyes, it’s better to have a few massive plants that you can monitor really closely, but when there is a problem, the scope of it is usually grotesque as well,” said Meli.

While The Healthy Butcher has seen a ten per cent rise in chicken sales, Meli said customers are still coming in to buy beef.

“For us, because of the fact that I’m not dealing with Alberta beef or Alberta processing plants, what ends up happening is we get an influx of customers who still want to buy beef, but want to buy local beef,” he said.

LISTEN: David Meli’s interview with Humber News

People shouldn’t take any chances with beef products whose origin hasn’t been identified, said Dr. Ronald Stewart, Humber’s bioscience division co-ordinator.

“Throw it out. In the end, what is the ground beef worth and what is your health worth?”

A complete listing of recalled beef products can be found on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s website.

Shoppers are being advised to ask at the till where their beef is from, the agency’s website says.