Agency: Canadian Beef Meets Same Standards As Exports

OTTAWA (Canadian Press) — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says the same safety standards apply to meat for domestic consumption and for overseas exports and reports to the contrary are "categorically false."

The embattled federal food safety agency is reacting to reports that inspectors at the XL Foods processing plant in Brooks, Alta., were told to ignore contamination on cattle carcasses unless they were destined for Japan.

A memo to inspectors, dated September 2008, does indeed instruct them to ensure all "Japan-eligible" beef has been 100 per cent verified for removal of fecal, intestinal and spinal cord materials.

The same memo tells inspectors at the "Japan Dura Mater" station on the production line to ignore such contamination for meat that is not destined for Japan.

But a spokeswoman for the agency says the memo was about division of labour and that the Japan inspection station was not the end of the line.

Lisa Gauthier of the CFIA says in a release that there is "zero tolerance for any form of contamination" and that there are multiple points of detection along the processing line.