Judge approves class-action lawsuit against XL Foods over tainted meat

EDMONTON – A judge has approved a class-action lawsuit against an Alberta company involved in the largest meat recall in Canada’s history.

Edmonton lawyer Richard Mallett says about 200 people who got sick from eating E. coli-tainted beef in Canada, as well as in the United States, have so far joined the suit against XL Foods.

During the outbreak last fall, health officials confirmed 18 people tested positive for the specific strain of bacteria linked to meat from the company’s plant in Brooks.

Mallett says other people also got sick but, for various reasons, didn’t get tested.

He says the suit further represents other people who purchased some of the millions of kilograms of recalled beef and lost money when they had to throw it away.

The statement of claim — which contains allegations not proven in court — claims XL Foods knew it had poor quality control systems and put its profits above the safety of consumers.

Last fall, U.S. food inspectors were first to find E. coli in a shipment of beef from the XL Foods plant in Brooks and quickly closed its border to meat from the facility.

Canadian officials temporarily shut down the plant and it was later purchased by Brazilian-based meat-packing giant JBS USA.

Mallett says the lawsuit will likely take another two years to get through the courts.

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