Canada beef plant hit by recall may reopen this week

Tue Oct 2, 2012 12:00pm EDT
 
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(Reuters) - One of Canada's largest beef-packing plants may reopen this week, as Canadian food authorities continue to track down millions of pounds of meat potentially tainted with E. coli bacteria.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is getting closer to locating all the beef products that were made at the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alberta on five dates from late August into early September, CFIA spokesman Guy Gravelle said on Tuesday.

Privately held XL has to make changes to the plant to comply with six requests for corrective action from the CFIA before the agency will consider reinstating its operating license, Gravelle said.

"From everything I've been told, it could open up this week sometime," he said.

The plant's temporary closure starting last Friday has left ranchers with fewer options to sell their cattle, and prompted rival Cargill Ltd to boost production at its High River, Alberta plant.

In the meantime, the agency widened its list of recalled products as recently as late Monday, and more items could still be added, Gravelle said.

The affected food stores across Canada and most U.S. states include Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Costco Wholesale Corp, Safeway and Loblaw Companies Ltd.

E. coli can lead to illness, permanent kidney damage or death.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Dale Hudson)