EDMONTON – Eight-hundred workers at the XL Foods beef plant in Alberta, which is involved in a massive and growing beef recall due to E. coli O157:H7 fears, have been laid off again as Canadian food-safety officials review if the plant can reopen, according to The Canadian Press. These workers were called into work on Oct. 16 to finish processing beef carcasses for a Canadian Food Inspection Agency assessment of the XL Foods plant in Brooks.
Next, the CFIA will decide when the plant can reopen. Doug O'Halloran, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, expects -- at the earliest -- the plant will reopen this Friday or next Monday.
Before next week begins, the agency expects to complete its report and make a recommendation to the Canadian federal government regarding the plant. Its review this week will include how well the XL Foods is handling E. coli controls, meat hygiene, sampling techniques and overall sanitation. The agency also plans to analyze meat test results completed by XL Foods and CFIA inspectors.
Last night, the food agency announced another recall of beef from the plant on E. coli O157:H7 fears, involving certain brands sold under different product names in British Columbia and Alberta. The recall of more than 1,800 products now involves 33 retail chains throughout Canada.
On Oct. 13, the company announced it was laying off more than 2,000 workers at the plant, which has not been operating since Sept. 27. As the second-largest meat packer in Canada, the company has not been allowed to export beef products into the US since Sept. 13. To date, 15 people in four provinces have become ill from a strain of E. coli linked to the XL plant, the report concluded.