EDMONTON, Alberta – Roughly 200 people who were sickened by E. coli-tainted beef produced by XL Foods have joined a class action lawsuit against the company, according to news reports. A judge recently approved the lawsuit against the company, which was at the center of the largest meat recall in Canada's history.
News reports state the lawsuit includes people who got sick but didn't get tested and customers who lost money when they purchased the tainted meat and had to throw it away. Beef contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 sickened 18 people and prompted the recall of more than 1,800 products. Canada's beef industry estimated losses stemming from the recall between $16 million and $27 million. XL Foods accounted for 35 percent of Canada’s beef processing capacity.
A panel appointed to review the XL Foods E. coli O157:H7 investigation found that shipments of tainted beef might not have gone into the food chain had the company followed proper food safety procedures and its own protocols. The panel found that XL Foods did not pay attention to increasing positive tests for E. coli in beef trim. Additionally, the company missed a high-event period when levels of E. coli exceeded predetermined thresholds. The lawsuit alleges that XL Foods knew its food safety controls were of poor quality and that the company put profits before consumer safety.
JBS Canada, a subsidiary of JBS USA acquired some XL Foods operations in January, including the Brooks, Alberta-based Lakeside beef processing plant.