Many Greater Trail residents were wondering where the beef was after a meat recall disrupted the delivery and provision of red meat to the Silver City over the last few days.
The recall of meat products from a processing plant in Alberta due to possible E. coli contamination has put the meat sections in three Trail grocery stores on full alert since late last week.
However, any beef products in Trail from the XL Foods meat processing plant in Brooks have been pulled, with the list including cuts of steaks and roasts, stewing beef and beef breakfast sausage. The products in question were manufactured at the plant on Aug. 24, 27, 28, 29 and Sept. 5.
The owner of McAuley’s No Frills in Waneta Plaza was not able to comment on the incident, deferring instead to the parent company to speak on the matter.
David Wilkes, the senior vice-president of the Retail Council of Canada’s grocery division in Toronto, speaking for McAuley’s, noted the Trail store “likely” removed its meat.
He also could not say if any meat delivered on the affected days was sold in Trail.
“If there was product in Trail that was affected it would have now been removed,” he said.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Tuesday it has now recalled more than 1,500 beef products in Canada. Five cases of E. coli in Alberta have been linked to meat that originated at XL Foods, all of which were purchased at a Costco store in Edmonton.
The Safeway location in East Trail did have some meat in the store from the dates in question, but store assistant manager Kyle Phillips said it never reached the store’s shelves.
Most of the meat comes in fresh in whole slabs to the store and it is cut up in house—except for the organic meat which comes from a different plant.
After the meat was pulled, Safeway staff double-checked the counter and the coolers, and placed a sign in the meat aisle that any customers could bring back the meat if they were concerned.
“Obviously we want to keep them safe and if they don’t feel safe then we’ll take it back,” Phillips said.
There was a “huge” beef recall that came down Thursday night and by Friday the counter was empty. The Safeway staff got rid of everything on the counter that day, as well as the meat in reserve.
“So we should be smooth sailing now,” Phillips said. “It’s just a matter of time whether it’s good enough or not.”
When that will be is uncertain. Wilkes said the CFIA has not issued any new recalls.
“The members have ensured that the product that was affected was off the shelves right across the country,” he said.
Ferraro Foods manager Danny Ferraro said the downtown Trail store processes all of its meat on site, with nothing pre-wrapped, exempting them from the processing problem.
“When I had to check dates, I had nothing (from them),” Ferraro said about XL Foods. “That’s why we keep everything fresh.”
The company buys from “everywhere,” said Ferraro, with local meat from Creston’s Tarzwell Farms being a large part of their supply, not XL Foods.
People who are unsure if they have the affected beef products in their homes are advised to check with the store where the products were bought or to throw them out.
With the situation in Trail settling down the recall of meat products has been expanded to include every province and territory, 40 states in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
CFIA says the recall also includes some unlabelled unbranded beef products sold at retail stores not included on its products list. Those retail stores may include small retailers, local meat markets and butcher shops.
Added to the list are products from Real Canadian Superstore and Extra Foods stores across most provinces.
According to The Canadian Press the Conservative government was questioned by Liberal and NDP MPs on Tuesday over how meat tainted with E. coli bacteria made it to Canadian store shelves, and why it took two weeks to issue a recall.
On their website, the CFIA said there was a delay getting information on tainted meat from the Alberta packing plant at the centre of an extensive beef recall.
According to a statement on the site, XL Foods “had monitoring measures in place but was not properly conducting trend analysis of the data it collected. The CFIA review found that the plant needs to improve its trend analysis and also strengthen its response measures when a higher than normal number of detections are made.”
In addition, the company’s control measures for meat that tested positive for E. coli were not always being followed correctly.
CFIA officials say they were alerted on Sept. 4 to a positive E. coli test in beef shipped to the U.S., but recalls in Canada didn’t start until Sept. 16.
On Sept. 27, CFIA temporarily suspended the licence of XL Foods to process meat.
— With files from The Canadian Press