OTTAWA (The Canadian Press) — A relaxed attitude towards mandatory procedures on the part of both plant staff and federal food inspectors is partly to blame for an E. coli outbreak last fall that sickened 18 people and led to the largest beef recall in Canadian history.
An independent panel's review of the incident says the XL Foods Inc. plant in Brooks, Alta., was overwhelmed and unprepared for the crisis because it had never rehearsed a recall on a scale that mirrored a real event.
The review also says there was a weak, food-safety culture among plant workers and Canadian Food Inspection Agency staff at the facility.
The panel is laying out recommendations to improve food safety, including better training for CFIA staff and tighter enforcement of oversight responsibilities.
At the time of the E. coli outbreak the XL Foods plant was the largest Canadian-owned beef slaughter facility in the country.
It is now owned and operated by JBS Food Canada, a subsidiary of JBS South America.