OTTAWA, Ontario – Canada’s Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz denied reports that XL Foods Inc. has resumed some operations.
"This is false - the XL plant will not be allowed to reopen until the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed that it is safe," he said in a statement.
The Globe and Mail reported that meat processing employees were called in late Oct. 3 to work the morning shift the next day. However, Ritz said the plant would not reopen until the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency (CFIA) certifies the plant is safe to process beef.
"I remain in constant contact with the leadership of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to ensure they are fulfilling their responsibilities," Ritz said. "I also went to XL Foods Inc. yesterday to personally ensure that everyone — from the executive in Ottawa to the in-depth review team in the facility — understand that the health and safety of Canadians is our first priority.
"The facility will not be allowed to reopen until the President of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed, in writing to me, that it is safe," he added.
Ritz defended the federal government’s response to a recall of beef products from Edmonton, Alberta-based XL Foods. The government has faced withering criticism from opposing parties that called an emergency debate in the Canadian Parliament's House of Commons on Oct. 3 to discuss the government's response to the recall.