UPDATE 2-Canada allows plant that shipped tainted beef to reopen

Tue Oct 23, 2012 1:30pm EDT
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* Slaughter, processing to gradually resume

* Inspection staff, testing ramped up

* Reopening of plant will ease cattle backlog

By Rod Nickel

Oct 23 (Reuters) - The Canadian plant that produced millions of pounds of tainted beef was set to reopen on Tuesday as food inspection officials tried to restore consumer confidence in the country's food safety system.

XL Foods' Brooks, Alberta, plant has been closed since Sept. 27 after producing beef contaminated with E. coli bacteria that sickened at least 16 people in Canada.

Products including ground beef and steaks were pulled off store shelves across Canada and in most U.S. states. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) halted imports last month of products traced to the plant.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said it has lifted its suspension of the plant's operating license after XL made a series of improvements. That means the plant, which has the capacity to handle 4,500 animals a day, can gradually resume the slaughter and processing of cattle.

"We are confident that all issues have been fully addressed," said Paul Mayers, associate vice president of programs for CFIA.   Continued...