Massive Canada beef recall unlikely to rattle buyers: analysts

Mon Oct 1, 2012 5:51pm EDT
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By Rod Nickel

(Reuters) - The huge recall of Canadian beef because of E.coli contamination is unlikely to slow that country's beef consumption or its exports, analysts say, largely because the public has become familiar with E.coli.

On Friday, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) temporarily shut down privately held XL Foods' beef-packing plant at Brooks, Alberta, where products containing the potentially deadly bacteria were made.

The CFIA also has recalled millions of pounds of beef products, including ground beef and steaks, from the plant. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which stopped importing beef from the plant in mid-September, is recalling beef in more than 30 states.

Meat buyers from importing countries are unlikely to be rattled by a risk they are well aware of, said Kevin Grier, senior market analyst at the George Morris Centre, a Canadian agriculture think-tank.

Canada is the world's sixth-largest exporter of beef and veal.

"The system is working in the sense that the last line of defense is recall," Grier said. "Everybody in the business knows that this can happen, and it's happened in the United States.

"I don't see it having long-term implications because knowledgeable people realize this is something that can plague the industry."

E. coli, which can cause sickness or even death, is widely present in meat-processing plants, but regulators require packers to control the bacteria within certain levels. E.coli can be killed by thoroughly cooking meat.   Continued...