The assessment will determine if the plant has addressed deficiencies uncovered as part of the CFIA's in-depth E. coli investigation.
Based on the results, a recommendation on next steps will be made to senior CFIA officials.
The licence to operate of XL Foods Inc., Establishment 38, remains suspended during this inspection, and operations, which will be subject to enhanced oversight and specific conditions, will only resume at this establishment after the CFIA is fully satisfied that the plant has implemented effective controls to manage food safety risks at all stages of production.
Meanwhile, food safety officials in Hong Kong have blocked all imports of beef products from XL Foods because of fears that they might be contaminated with E.coli.
In the assessment by the Canadian inspectors, the CFIA will verify that the sanitary conditions of both the slaughter and processing areas of the plant, including all equipment, meet the requirements of Canada's Meat Inspection Regulations.
The CFIA will also verify that preventive controls will effectively manage E. coli risks once the plant is operational.
All products at the plant continue to remain under CFIA detention and control during this assessment.
The agency said its priority is the health and safety of Canadians.
"CFIA decisions have been, and continue to be, based on scientific evidence and a precautionary approach to protect consumers from potentially harmful products," a CFIA spokesman said.
"We remain committed to providing timely and accurate information to the public as it becomes available."
Based on the observations of the CFIA’s in-depth review team, a Corrective Action Request (CAR) was issued last week requiring the company to address issues related to its management of E. coli O157:H7.
During an in-depth review or audit situation, all findings are issued CARs immediately.
The CFIA said that the company had an appropriate plan to control food safety risks which had been verified by the CFIA.
However, the plan, known as 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 programme.
The CFIA also issued a number of other CARs which pointed to general maintenance and sanitation issues that may be found in a high-volume plant - particularly if the plant is older.
These issues would not typically be expected to contribute to E. coli 0157:H7 contamination.
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 odour
there was condensation above exposed containers of product in the sampling and weighing areas
sanitiser 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.
Plant staff were immediately notified of these findings as they were observed. In addition, the CFIA issued a CAR when product from XL Foods Inc. sampled by the US Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) at the Canada-US border tested positive for E. coli O157:H7.
In Hong Kong, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) announced that as the Canadian authority found some raw beef and beef products manufactured by XL Foods Inc there contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7, the CFS would suspend import of those products produced on and after 24 August 24 by the manufacturer concerned with immediate effect as a precaution.
The CFS was notified by the Canadian authority that the manufacturer was recalling the affected raw beef and beef products, and part of the raw beef had been imported into Hong Kong.
According to CFS’ initial investigations, a small portion of the products had been distributed to some local retailers.
"The CFS has alerted the trade and instructed the importer and distributors concerned to stop selling and start recalling the products of the affected batches," a CFS spokesman said.
"We will continue liaising with the Canadian authorities and closely monitor the situation. Relevant control measures will be reviewed when further information is obtained," the spokesman said.
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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