There are now 10 illnesses from E. coli O157:H7 linked to products from XL Foods Inc. or illnesses associated with the XL Foods food safety investigation, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
In a notice issued over the weekend, the agency confirmed seven cases in Alberta, one in Newfoundland and Labrador and two in Quebec, based on all the information collected to date—epidemiological, microbiological and food safety-related.
The Canadian Food Safety Agency (CFIA) has expanded the recall several times. It is linked to beef products produced Aug. 24, 27, 28, 29 and Sept. 5.
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service estimates that, as of Friday, Oct. 5, approximately 1.1 million pounds of trim and approximately 1.4 million pounds of primal and sub-primal cuts used to produce steaks, roasts, mechanically tenderized steaks and roasts, and ground beef covered by the recall were received by U.S. firms.
After an in-depth review, CFIA issued a Corrective Action Request (CAR) requiring the company to address issues related to managing E. coli O157:H7.
The agency said that while XL Foods had an appropriate plan to control food safety risks which had been verified by the CFIA, the hazard analysis and critical control points plan (HACCP), was not being fully implemented or regularly updated.
Specific observations included:
•Lack of detailed documents outlining required steps when product was positive for E. coli O157:H7 or when there were a high number of positives in a 24-hour period.
•Inconsistent trend analysis on positive samples and no process to include test results from client establishments.
•Insufficient record keeping related to on-going monitoring and validation of processes, procedures, and equipment maintenance (e.g., 12 of 100 water nozzles clogged in the primary carcass wash area).
•Deficiencies in sampling techniques and procedures, such as inconsistent sampling and no established monitoring program.
The CFIA also issued a number of other CARs that pointed to general maintenance and sanitation issues that may be found in a high-volume plant, particularly if the plant is older.
Findings related to maintenance and sanitation included:
•Refrigeration units had not been cleaned as frequently as is required in the company’s written sanitation plan.
•Ice build-up was observed on freezer doors.
•Water was dripping from piping.
•A drain near the rendering room was emitting a foul odor.
•There was condensation above exposed containers of product in the sampling and weighing areas.
•Sanitizer was dripping from overhead structures onto product below.
•The company had no effective monitoring procedures to ensure that equipment design meets requirements.
•The evisceration table thermometer was not functioning properly.
•Some employees were not wearing beard nets.
•Employees sorting beef trim touched contaminated product without following appropriate washing and sanitizing procedures.
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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