U.S. bans beef from Canada's XL Foods plant
(Reuters) - The United States has halted imports of beef products from one of Canada's largest beef-processing plants, owned by privately held XL Foods at Brooks, Alberta, due to findings of E. coli bacteria.
A spokesman for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said on Tuesday that the agency "de-listed" the plant on September 13 at the request of U.S. authorities, meaning that it cannot export any of its products to the United States until corrections are made.
"Which is normal, when there are positive findings from a facility," said CFIA spokesman Tim O'Connor.
XL Foods voluntarily recalled more than 250 meat products this month after positive findings of E. coli, a bacteria that can cause potentially life-threatening illness.
Canada is the sixth-largest beef and veal exporter in the world.
The CFIA has completed its review of the plant's food safety controls and found XL Foods could not demonstrate that it regularly updated its plan to control E. Coli in the facility, the agency said.
An official with XL Foods referred a request for comment to a company spokesman, who could not be reached.
Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, under questioning from opposition legislators in Ottawa, said the CFIA took swift action to control the movement of potentially contaminated products.
"None of the product made it to store shelves," he said. "No illnesses have been linked back to this particular strain of E. Coli, so we've actually done a tremendous job."
Ritz's spokeswoman, Meagan Murdoch, said the minister was referring only to the first batch of recalled products not making it to store shelves and that any other product that could have been contaminated has since been recalled.
(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba and Randall Palmer in Ottawa; Editing by Kenneth Barry and Jim Marshall)
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