XL Foods will stay shut for now, as class-action suit is expected to grow

Despite rumours to the contrary, Alberta’s XL Foods is closed for business due to tainted meat and isn’t about the reopen any time soon. The XL plant in Brooks, just southeast of Calgary, has a suspended license and won’t get it back until the minister gets written notice that the plant is safe from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

XL has recalled more than 1,700 products in what some are calling the largest recall of meat products ever. The recalls first started in mid-September. The company has remained tight-lipped thus far, even forcing local plant workers to pay attention to media to find out whether they should go to work.

Meanwhile, it’s becoming more likely that there could be even more claimants in a class action law suit over beef tainted with E. coli.

Edmonton man Matthew Harrison alleges he contracted E. coli after eating steak from XL Foods Inc. in a lawsuit filed on Tuesday. XL Foods processed. packaged, and stored the meat.

Harrison says he had severe stomach pain and blood in his stool. He spent three or four days in the hospital.

Harrison’s lawsuit says XL was negligent in ensuring its beef was safe to eat, and didn’t test its beef products adequately. It also says it failed to follow quality control processes and didn’t recall all the tainted beef as soon as the company heard people were getting sick. The suit also claims that XL hid this information from consumers even though they knew how poor the quality control was at the Brooks plant.

Harrison says he still experiences side effects from the E. coli and can only work for four to five hours before getting tired. The lawsuit is seeking punitive damages, as well as looking for XL to admit that the recalled products were contaminated.
XL has since taken responsibility for the beef recall after a month-long silence, and a recall of 680 tonnes of beef. The company said they thought their safety procedures were enough, but realize now they weren’t. They also said they would improve using video surveillance to monitor the production line, and implement an improved washing system.
According to researchers at the University of British Columbia, this newest outbreak of E. coli could have been prevented with a cattle vaccine. The vaccine prevents cattle from shedding the bacteria, and has been long-lauded as a success. Brett Finlay, one of the researchers, was given millions to continue the research.

Farmers, however, still aren’t using the vaccine because it costs $6 per cow, and there’s no requirement that animals be vaccinated.

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