ARCHIVED - Timeline of Events: CFIA Investigation into XL Foods Inc. (E. coli O157:H7)

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This timeline is a compilation of information from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), Health Canada, and the Alberta government. Every effort will be made to update it regularly. From time to time information that was provided for a certain date may be changed to reflect new information or correct factual errors.

January 14, 2013

Establishment 38, XL Foods Inc., resumes slaughter and processing operations under normal CFIA oversight. The additional Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspectors (beyond the 46 normally assigned full-time to the plant), who have been placed at the facility since October, determine that the plant's food safety controls are operating consistently and effectively.

In addition, samples taken by the CFIA and Establishment 38 have consistently not detected E. coli O157:H7 and all outstanding Corrective Action Requests at the plant have been addressed.

October 23, 2012

The CFIA holds a technical briefing and issues a statement announcing that Establishment 38, XL Foods Inc., has been allowed to resume operations under enhanced CFIA oversight.

Meat products continue to move from the plant to rendering or landfill under CFIA oversight. Meat that was not part of the recall continues to be moved to cold storage prior to being cooked.

October 22, 2012

Inedible meat products continue to move from the plant to rendering or landfill under CFIA oversight.

Meat that was not part of the recall but that was in storage at the plant starts moving to federally-registered cold storage facilities. Eventually these products will be cooked at high temperatures to thoroughly destroy traces of E. coli O157:H7.

October 21, 2012

Inedible meat products continue to move from the plant to rendering or landfill under CFIA oversight.

October 20, 2012

Inedible meat products continue to move from the plant to rendering or landfill under CFIA oversight.

The CFIA issues another updated Health Hazard Alert identifying more beef products. All products covered by this update are still tied to the five production dates: August 24, 27, 28, 29 and September 5.

October 19, 2012

The CFIA receives test results for the carcasses that the company processed between October 12 and October 17. Both CFIA and XL Foods Inc. test results for these carcasses are negative for E. coli O157:H7.

The CFIA continues reviewing its observations of deboning and cutting activities, specific E. coli controls, meat hygiene, sampling techniques and overall sanitation in the plant.

Inedible meat products currently under detention continue to move from the plant to rendering, a high-temperature disposal method. Shipments continue to move under strict CFIA oversight, and none of the rendered material will enter the food system.

The CFIA holds a technical briefing and issues a statement.

The Outbreak Investigation Coordinating Committee confirms one additional case of illness associated with the XL Foods Inc. food safety investigation. PHAC issues a Public Health Notice announcing there are a total of 16 confirmed cases of illness.

October 18, 2012

Inedible meat products currently under detention continue to move from the plant to rendering, a high-temperature disposal method. Shipments continue to move under strict CFIA oversight, and none of the rendered material will enter the food system.

The CFIA continues to review its findings from observations taken at the plant. CFIA and company testing of meat samples has concluded and the CFIA is analyzing results as they become available.

October 17, 2012

The CFIA issues a statement on the completion of the Agency's review of the plant's E. coli controls in action.

Inedible meat products continue to leave the plant, under CFIA supervision, for rendering.

October 16, 2012

The plant completes the cutting of carcasses under strict CFIA supervision. The CFIA continues to test meat samples for the presence of E. coli O157:H7.

Two more sealed trailers containing inedible meat products leave the plant for rendering, escorted by CFIA inspection staff in marked vehicles.

The CFIA issues another Health Hazard Alert identifying more beef products. All products covered by this update are still tied to the five production dates: August 24, 27, 28, 29 and September 5.

October 14 and October 15, 2012

The CFIA authorizes the controlled movement of some inedible meat products currently under detention from the plant to rendering, an acceptable disposal method. None of the rendered material will enter the food system. Beginning on October 15, the shipments will move under strict CFIA oversight. Two sealed trailers of meat products leave the plant escorted by CFIA inspection staff in marked vehicles.

CFIA testing of meat samples continues for the presence of E. coli O157:H7.

October 13, 2012

Minister Ritz issues a statement in response to the layoff of workers by XL Foods. The CFIA also issues a statement.

The plant operates under strict conditions and intensified CFIA oversight. The CFIA takes samples from primal cuts of meat that were cut from the carcasses processed on October 12 and submits them for E. coli testing.

October 12, 2012

The CFIA continues to carry out its intensified inspection and sampling activities to monitor the plant's food safety controls in action. All products at the plant continue to remain under CFIA detention and control during this assessment.

The Outbreak Investigation Coordinating Committee confirms additional cases of illness associated with the XL Foods Inc. food safety investigation. PHAC issues a Public Health Notice announcing there are a total of 15 confirmed cases of illness.

The CFIA issues another Health Hazard Alert identifying more beef products. All products covered by this update are still tied to the five production dates: August 24, 27, 28, 29 and September 5.

October 11, 2012

The CFIA, with officials from PHAC, holds a technical media briefing by phone to provide an update on the food safety investigation and review at Establishment 38, XL Foods Inc. and the public health investigation into E. coli illnesses. The CFIA issues a statement to announce that XL Foods will be allowed to proceed to the next stage in the review process. CFIA officials will monitor the plant's food safety controls in action by allowing the plant to process carcasses under continued strict conditions.

October 10, 2012

The company's licence to operate is still under suspension. CFIA officials review the findings of the detailed assessment of Establishment 38, XL Foods Inc., continues.

The Outbreak Investigation Coordinating Committee confirms at its daily meeting that there is one additional confirmed case of illness associated with the XL Foods Inc. food safety investigation. PHAC issues a Public Health Notice announcing there are a total of 12 confirmed cases of illness.

Following further developments in the food safety investigation, the CFIA issues another Health Hazard Alert identifying more beef products. The Health Hazard Alert includes ready-to-eat products. All products covered by this update are still tied to the five production dates: August 24, 27, 28, 29 and September 5.

October 9, 2012

The company's licence to operate is still under suspension. The CFIA's detailed assessment of Establishment 38, XL Foods Inc. takes place throughout the day. This assessment will determine if the facility has addressed deficiencies identified as part of the CFIA's in-depth E. coli O157:H7 investigation.

October 8, 2012

The company's licence to operate is still under suspension. The CFIA continues to oversee the company's action measures related to the corrective actions requested by the CFIA.

The CFIA, with officials from PHAC, holds a technical media briefing by phone to provide an update on the food safety investigation at XL Foods Inc. and the public health investigation into E. coli O157:H7 illnesses. The CFIA announces that they will begin a detailed assessment of Establishment 38, XL Foods Inc. on October 9. This assessment will determine if the facility has addressed deficiencies uncovered as part of the CFIA's in-depth E. coli O157:H7 investigation.

The Outbreak Investigation Coordinating Committee confirms at its daily meeting that there is one additional confirmed case of illness associated with the XL Foods Inc. food safety investigation. PHAC issues a Public Health Notice announcing there are a total of 11 confirmed cases of illness.

October 7, 2012

The company's licence to operate is still under suspension. The CFIA continues to oversee the company's action measures related to the corrective actions requested by the CFIA.

Following further developments in the food safety investigation, the CFIA issues another Health Hazard Alert identifying more beef products. The Health Hazard Alert includes raw meat products as well as ready-to-eat products. All products covered by this update are still tied to the five production dates: August 24, 27, 28, 29 and September 5.

The CFIA continues to check the effectiveness of the recall at the retail and institutional level. Tracing of products implicated by XL Foods Inc.s recall continues to follow products through secondary and tertiary distributors, manufacturers and retailers.

October 6, 2012

The company's licence to operate is still under suspension. The CFIA continues to oversee the company's action measures related to the corrective actions requested by the CFIA.

PHAC and the CFIA holds a technical media briefing by phone to provide an update on the food safety investigation at XL Foods Inc. and the public health investigation into E. coli O157:H7 illnesses.

The Outbreak Investigation Coordinating Committee concludes at its daily meeting that there are five additional cases of illness associated with the XL Foods Inc. food safety investigation. PHAC issues a Public Health Notice announcing there are a total of 10 confirmed cases of illness.

The CFIA continues to check the effectiveness of the recall at the retail and institutional level. Tracing of products implicated by XL Foods Inc.'s recall continues to follow products through secondary and tertiary distributors, manufacturers and retailers.

October 5, 2012

The company's licence to operate is still under suspension. The CFIA continues to oversee the company's action measures related to the corrective actions requested by the CFIA.

The CFIA, with officials from the PHAC, holds a technical media briefing by phone to provide information on the observations of the CFIA's in-depth review team.

The government's Outbreak Investigation Coordinating Committee concludes at its daily meeting that there is one additional case of illness associated with the XL Foods Inc. food safety investigation. PHAC issues a Public Health Notice announcing the additional confirmed case of illness is in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The CFIA continues to check the effectiveness of the recall at the retail and institutional level. Tracing of products implicated by XL Foods Inc.'s recall continues to follow products through secondary and tertiary distributors, manufacturers and retailers. As a result, the CFIA issues another Health Hazard Alert identifying more beef products. All products covered by this update are still tied to the five production dates: August 24, 27, 28, 29 and September 5.

October 4, 2012

The company's licence to operate is still under suspension. Minister Ritz holds a second news conference to reassert that the plant will not re-open until the CFIA is satisfied that all food safety protocols are completely met.

The CFIA continues to check the effectiveness of the recall at the retail and institutional level. Tracing of products implicated by XL Foods Inc.'s recall continues to follow products through secondary and tertiary distributors, manufacturers and retailers.

October 3, 2012

Minister Ritz visits the plant then holds a news conference at the CFIA laboratory in Calgary.

Testing of carcasses in the plant concludes.

The CFIA continues to check the effectiveness of the recalls at the retail and institutional level. Tracing of products implicated by XL Foods Inc.'s recall continues to follow products through secondary and tertiary distributors, manufacturers and retailers.

The government's Outbreak Investigation Coordinating Committee concludes at its daily meeting that no additional cases of illness have been confirmed since October 2. Investigations and laboratory analysis continue in several jurisdictions.

Following further developments in the food safety investigation, the CFIA issues another Health Hazard Alert identifying more beef products. All products covered by this update are still tied to the five production dates: August 24, 27, 28, 29 and September 5.

October 2, 2012

The CFIA begins to oversee the company's action measures related to the corrective actions requested by the CFIA.

The CFIA continues to check the effectiveness of the recall at the retail and institutional level. Tracing of products implicated by XL Foods Inc.'s recall continues to follow products through secondary and tertiary distributors, manufacturers and retailers.

October 1, 2012

Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) and Multi-locus Variable Number Tandem Repeat Analysis (MLVA) testing indicates that three additional cases reported to PHAC on September 13 and September 18 were not caused by the same strain of E. coli O157:H7 as found in products originating from Establishment 38, XL Foods Inc.

PHAC posts a Public Health Notice on its website that summarizes the OICC findings that demonstrate a strong link between the four cases of illness and XL Foods Inc. The Notice also provides information on the risks of E. coli O157:H7 infection and how people can protect themselves.

In addition to doing confirmatory testing on human specimens, PHAC offers to provide laboratory testing capacity for the testing of food samples to support CFIA's ongoing investigation.

Following further developments in the food safety investigation, the CFIA issued another Health Hazard Alert identifying more beef products. All products covered by this update were still tied to the five production dates: August 24, 27, 28, 29 and September 5.

September 30, 2012

CFIA began working with Establishment 38 – XL Foods Inc. to test all the carcasses that were in the plant when the plant's licence to operate was suspended. The carcasses will remain under CFIA detention and control and will only be released after being tested negative for E. coli O157:H7 and when the CFIA is fully confident the plant's food safety control measures are operating effectively.

The company's licence to operate is still under suspension, and no animals are being slaughtered.

Following further developments in the food safety investigation, the CFIA issued another Health Hazard Alert identifying more beef products. All products covered by this update were still tied to the five production dates: August 24, 27, 28, 29 and September 5.

September 29, 2012

After a thorough review, the Agency accepted the company's improved corrective action plans. The company is in the process of implementing these corrective actions under strong CFIA oversight.

The Agency works on finalizing an enhanced trend analysis monitoring plan for the testing done by the company. This will be implemented when facility operations resume. The Agency also begins planning to implement an additional layer of sampling and testing above and beyond the testing conducted by the company.

Following further developments in the food safety investigation, the CFIA issued another Health Hazard Alert identifying more beef products. All products covered by this update were still tied to the five production dates: August 24, 27, 28, 29 and September 5.

September 28, 2012

The CFIA hosts a technical briefing for media on the recall. PHAC and HC attend. The organizations answer questions on the food safety investigation, including laboratory and epidemiological methods used to detect and respond to foodborne illness outbreaks.

XL Foods Inc. re-submitted corrective action plans to the CFIA. The CFIA began to review these improved plans.

The Government of Canada (CFIA, Health Canada, and PHAC) as well as the province of Alberta, conclude that the evidence linking the four cases of illnesses in Alberta to XL Foods Inc. is strong.

Following further developments in the food safety investigation, the CFIA issues two Health Hazard Alerts identifying more beef products.

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issues another Public Health Alert to American consumers. It includes all beef and beef products produced on August 24, 27, 28, 29 and September 5.

September 27, 2012

The CFIA announces that it has temporarily suspended the licence to operate Establishment 38, XL Foods Inc., in Brooks, Alberta. The CFIA determined that adequate controls for food safety were not fully implemented in the facility. The CFIA identified a number of deficiencies during an in-depth review of the facility. To date, the company had not adequately implemented the agreed-upon corrective actions and did not present acceptable plans to address longer-term issues.

All products currently at this plant are under CFIA detention and control. These products will only be released after being tested negative for E. coli O157:H7. The CFIA issued a Health Hazard Alert to include raw meat produced on August 24, 27, 28, 29 and September 5.

PHAC, CFIA, and Health Canada attend an Alberta-led investigation call.

The CFIA continues to immediately alert consumers as these additional products are identified. This will lead to a series of public alerts over the next few days as implicated products and processed products that contain them are identified and traced.

XL Foods Inc. will not resume operations until the CFIA is fully confident in the plant's capacity to effectively manage food safety risks.

September 26, 2012

At the request of Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services, and as per the Foodborne Illness Outbreak Response Protocol (FIORP), an Outbreak Investigation Coordinating Committee (OICC) Assessment call was held with PHAC, Health Canada, CFIA, Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services. An OICC was activated to facilitate and coordinate information sharing.

FSIS issued a Public Health Alert related to the positive sample found on September 24 in California and begins discussions with CFIA on possible additional measures. At this point it was not clear where and when the contamination occurred.

September 25, 2012

The CFIA issued a Health Hazard Alert identifying more products affected by this recall. All products covered by this expansion were tied to the two production dates for beef trimmings of August 27 and 29.

National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg (PHAC-NML) reported that the MLVA profiles from the four cases that that consumed Costco steak matched the MLVA profile obtained from XL Foods Inc. beef samples. The fifth case had an unrelated MLVA.

Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services, in collaboration with PHAC, advised the CFIA that there was sufficient evidence to conclude that steaks purchased at a Costco Wholesale store located at 13650 - 50 Street in Edmonton, were the vehicle of infection for four cases of human illness. This was the trigger for CFIA's request for a Health Risk Assessment. The traceback investigation to determine the origin of the steaks sold at this Costco Wholesale store was ongoing. Opportunities for cross-contamination of the steaks within the Costco store were identified. It had not yet been established where the contamination occurred.

CFIA sought a health risk assessment from Health Canada which resulted in a recall of steaks from that particular store. Note: The recall was posted in the early hours of September 26.

The decision to recall a product is based on the outcome of a health risk assessment conducted by Health Canada. The CFIA submits the request for an assessment to Health Canada and includes available epidemiological, laboratory and food safety investigation evidence when doing so.

September 24, 2012

FSIS advised CFIA of a positive E. coli O157:H7 sample in California taken from trimming made from beef produced by XL Foods Inc. on August 27. CFIA had already recalled beef trim from this production date.

The Alberta provincial laboratory uploaded the PFGE results to PulseNet Canada for the clinical cases from September 18 and PHAC-NML verified that PFGE results for all four cases that consumed Costco steaks matched each other.

An epidemiologic assessment was initiated by PHAC in collaboration with Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services.

September 22, 2012

The CFIA issued a Health Hazard Alert identifying products related to the two additional days of production – August 27 and 29 - from secondary processors.

September 21, 2012

Following more trace out activities, the CFIA issued a Health Hazard Alert identifying more products, from secondary processors, manufactured from the recalled beef trimmings. All products covered by this update were still tied to the three production dates for beef trimmings of August 24, 28 and September 5.

From the ongoing data review, the CFIA concluded that there were two additional production dates – August 27 and 29 - where risks were assessed as higher for E. coli O157:H7 contamination. On the same day FSIS called CFIA to express concerns about these same two production dates based on the data CFIA had shared with them.

Based on this conclusion, XL Foods Inc. began to notify its customers in Canada and US that it was recalling beef trimmings produced on August 27 and 29.

PHAC-NML completed the MLVA testing for the beef isolate and determined they did not match the SK or AB cases originally reported on September 13 and are therefore not linked to XL Foods Inc.

The FSIS re-issues their Public Health Alert to American consumers to clarify that the products subject to the alert are raw boneless beef trim imported into the U.S. by XL Foods Inc., and to add two additional productions days - August 27 and 29.

September 20, 2012

The CFIA issued a Health Hazard Alert after identifying more products, from secondary processors, manufactured from the recalled beef trimmings. All products covered by this update were still tied to the three production dates for beef trimmings of August 24, 28 and September 5.

The FSIS issues its first Public Health Alert to American consumers, warning of contaminated Canadian beef from XL Foods Inc. The alert covers August 24, 28 and September 5.

September 19, 2012

Following more trace out activities, the CFIA issued a Health Hazard Alert identifying more products, from secondary processors, manufactured from the recalled beef trimmings. All products covered by this update were still tied to the three production dates for beef trimmings of August 24, 28 and September 5.

September 18, 2012

CFIA issued five additional Corrective Action Requests (CARs) for XL Foods Inc. for corrective action plans for all of the deficiencies that were identified by the technical review team. There are varying dates of completion for the corrective actions to be taken depending on risk.

As a result of additional traceout activity at the retail level the CFIA issued a Health Hazard Alert identifying more products, from secondary processors, manufactured from the recalled beef trimmings. Again all products covered by this update were still tied to the three production dates for beef trimmings of August 24, 28 and September 5.

Alberta Health notified PHAC Outbreak Management Division (OMD) that Alberta Health Services was investigating four cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection that reported exposure to beef steaks from one Costco location in Edmonton. At this time there was no link between the illnesses and XL Foods Inc. The investigation continued.

Product samples were obtained and sent to the Alberta provincial laboratory and PHAC's National Microbiology Laboratory for PFGE and MLVA testing. Results were expected within five to six days.

Alberta Health Services posted a Public Health Alert to notify public health professionals in all provinces and territories of the four cases and indicated that they suspected steak products sold from a single Costco Wholesale store located in Edmonton may be the vehicle of infection.

Additional cases of E. coli O157:H7 were under investigation in Alberta prior to and after this date. PHAC, CFIA, Health Canada, Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services worked in a coordinated manner to identify linkages to Costco steak or XL Foods Inc. products.

September 17, 2012

CFIA activated its national emergency operations centre to enhance coordination of response activities and information sharing in the Agency and with public health partners and other government departments.

The CFIA issued an Health Hazard Alert identifying more products manufactured from the recalled beef trimmings. All products covered by this updated health hazard alert were still tied to the three production dates for beef trimmings of August 24, 28 and September 5.

Balancing the need to have reliable information with the need to inform the public as soon as possible means that the CFIA regularly alerts consumers of recalled products while investigations are still ongoing. With this approach, incremental health hazard alerts are often issued for large recalls such as this one.

September 16, 2012

The CFIA and XL Foods Inc. began issuing health hazard alerts warning the public, distributors, grocery chains and food service establishments not to consume, sell, or serve specific ground beef products made from XL Foods Inc. beef trimmings from August 24, 28 and September 5 that may have been contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

As noted, these specific dates were tied to clear sampling findings.

CFIA continued to review data to assess whether there were other dates of production requiring action. Over the following few days, CFIA requested additional company production and distribution data.

CFIA inspectors also continued to supervise ongoing operations at the plant, including:

  • Verifying that carcasses are clean prior to processing;
  • Continuing to verify that the facility's maintenance program is operating and that the processing environment is clean;
  • Checking daily that all positive lots are diverted to rendering and/or cooking;
  • Verifying that the company is developing and implementing action measures related to the corrective actions requested by the CFIA.

September 13 to September 16, 2012

On September 13, the CFIA removed XL Foods Inc. from the list of establishments eligible to export to the US. In the absence of evidence that any affected product from the initial discovery had reached the marketplace in Canada, no product was recalled at this time.

The CFIA's technical review team finds no single critical factor that would lead to E. coli O157:H7 contamination of product leaving the plant. The review team finds a combination of deficiencies contributed to the contamination issues.

  • Although XL Foods Inc. had monitoring measures in place, trend analysis of the data collected was not being properly conducted. CFIA review found that the plant needed to improve its trend analysis and also strengthen its response measures when a higher than normal number of positive test results are found.
  • While the company's measures for dealing with meat that tested positive for E. coli O157:H7 were properly laid out, they were not always being followed correctly. For example, while containers of meat testing positive for E. coli O157:H7 were properly handled, a small number of containers produced immediately before and after the contaminated product were not always diverted from the fresh meat line. This process, known as bracketing, is an established food safety control.
  • Sampling protocols were not always followed by plant staff, which could have resulted in some inaccurate test results.

In addition, the CFIA team noted that the company's maintenance plan required updating in order to address minor sanitary issues such as control of condensation and ventilation issues. These specific deficiencies are not likely related to the E. coli O157:H7 contamination.

The CFIA laboratory investigation determined that the protocol and methods used by the private laboratory providing testing support to XL Foods Inc. were effective and accurate.

Based on the findings of the CFIA's in-depth review, XL Foods Inc. began to advise its customers that it was recalling beef trimmings for three days of production (August 24 and 28 and September 5).

These raw beef trimmings were sold to other companies that make them into other products. Therefore, CFIA began contacting those other companies, including grocery chains, to identify where their products, using these raw beef trimmings, were further distributed and/or sold.

CFIA inspectors also continued to supervise ongoing operations at the plant, including:

  • Verifying that carcasses are clean prior to processing;
  • Continuing to verify that the facility's maintenance program is operating and that the processing environment is clean;
  • Checking daily that all positive lots are diverted to rendering and/or cooking;
  • Verifying that the company is developing and implementing action measures related to the corrective actions requested by the CFIA.

On September 13, the PHAC-NML identified two cases of human illness in Alberta and Saskatchewan that were a PFGE match to the E. coli O157:H7 strain. The PHAC- NML advised that the PFGE pattern from the beef is a common pattern seen in Canada. Another DNA fingerprinting test, Multi-locus Variable Number Tandem Repeat Analysis (MLVA), would be required. MLVA is a more advanced method of genetic fingerprinting of bacteria than PFGE. Both PFGE and MLVA require 2-3 days to complete once the sample is received at the lab, as the bacteria need to be grown to obtain sufficient DNA for testing and the testing itself requires time.

September 12, 2012

As the CFIA's investigation continued, FSIS notified the CFIA that it had found two more positive E. coli O157:H7 samples in beef trimmings originating from XL Foods Inc. through intensified sampling, which is routinely implemented after a positive finding at the border. The affected shipments were held at the border. The CFIA confirmed that all affected batches were held at the border and subsequently destroyed. No products from these affected lots were distributed in Canada.

Based on the CFIA's investigation and the new US findings, the Agency sent in a team of technical experts to assist onsite staff conduct an in-depth review of operations in the XL Foods Inc. plant and to assess how and where contamination occurred. This in-depth review focused on this plant's preventative control measures, food-safety policies and procedures, laboratory methodology, and equipment and quality systems. This review went well beyond routine day to day inspection activities, including enhanced monitoring of condensation issues in the plant.

CFIA inspectors also continued to supervise ongoing operations at the plant, including:

  • Verifying that carcasses are clean prior to processing;
  • Continuing to verify that the facility's maintenance program is operating and that the processing environment is clean;
  • Checking daily that all positive lots are diverted to rendering and/or cooking;
  • Verifying that the company is developing and implementing action measures related to the corrective actions requested by the CFIA.

The CFIA shared the E. coli O157:H7 PFGE, or "fingerprint" pattern, with PHAC- NML. PHAC-NML immediately began to check for this PFGE pattern within its PulseNet Canada database. This database houses E. coli O157:H7 fingerprint information that is jointly collected from the provincial public health laboratories and also federal laboratories such as those of the CFIA.

September 10 and 11, 2012

Pursuant to CFIA requests to XL Foods Inc. on September 6 and 7, information from XL Foods Inc. was provided to the CFIA in a series of submissions over two days. Based on an analysis of the information provided, the CFIA identified August 24, 28 and September 5 of interest for further investigation.

CFIA inspection staff enhanced monitoring of the de-hiding area for potential contamination and sanitizer temperature.

CFIA inspectors also continued to supervise ongoing operations at the plant, including:

  • Verifying that carcasses are clean prior to processing;
  • Continuing to verify that the facility's maintenance program is operating and that the processing environment is clean;
  • Checking daily that all positive lots are diverted to rendering and/or cooking;
  • Verifying that the company is developing and implementing action measures related to the corrective actions requested by the CFIA.

September 8 and 9, 2012

The CFIA engaged with XL Foods Inc. plant management regarding information requirements. In addition, the 46 CFIA staff in the plant continued their surveillance and oversight activities.

CFIA inspectors also continued to supervise ongoing operations at the plant, including:

  • Verifying that carcasses are clean prior to processing;
  • Continuing to verify that the facility's maintenance program is operating and that the processing environment is clean;
  • Checking daily that all positive lots are diverted to rendering and/or cooking;
  • Verifying that the company is developing and implementing action measures related to the corrective actions requested by the CFIA.

September 7, 2012

Through its investigation, the CFIA issued a Corrective Action Request (CAR) to XL Foods Inc. requiring it to strengthen controls around sampling and testing of meat products originating from the facility.

XL Foods Inc. was formally requested in writing to produce detailed information related to product details, distribution, sampling results, and information on the effectiveness of the plant's preventative controls as soon as possible but no later than September 8.

CFIA inspectors also continued to supervise ongoing operations at the plant, including:

  • Verifying that carcasses are clean prior to processing;
  • Continuing to verify that the facility's maintenance program is operating and that the processing environment is clean;
  • Checking daily that all positive lots are diverted to rendering and/or cooking;
  • Verifying that the company is developing and implementing action measures related to the corrective actions requested by the CFIA.

The CFIA notified the PHAC of the positive E. coli O157:H7 findings at XL Foods Inc. and that DNA fingerprinting, through PFGE, was underway. PFGE is the world-wide standard of genetic fingerprinting of E. coli. Genetic fingerprinting provides information on the genome of bacteria, allowing linking of bacteria from different sources. The PFGE results would be shared by the CFIA as soon as they were available to help determine if there were any human illnesses with a matching genetic fingerprint.

September 6, 2012

As part of the investigation, the CFIA verbally requested distribution information and testing results from XL Foods Inc. for all products produced on August 24 and 28 – the days when the affected products were made.

CFIA inspectors also continued to supervise ongoing operations at the plant, including:

  • Verifying that carcasses are clean prior to processing;
  • Continuing to verify that the facility's maintenance program is operating and that the processing environment is clean;
  • Checking daily that all positive lots are diverted to rendering and/or cooking.

September 5, 2012

The CFIA continued its investigation to determine the source of the contamination and whether there was a connection between the two positive test results – one found by CFIA and one by FSIS.

In addition, the CFIA issued a "corrective action request" to the Alberta facility supplied by XL Foods Inc., where the initial positive finding originated.

CFIA inspectors also continued to supervise ongoing operations at the plant, including:

  • Verifying that carcasses are clean prior to processing;
  • Continuing to verify that the facility's maintenance program is operating and that the processing environment is clean;
  • Checking daily that all positive lots are diverted to rendering and/or cooking.

September 4, 2012

During routine testing, the CFIA identified a positive E. coli O157:H7 sample in raw beef trimmings produced at an Alberta facility supplied by XL Foods Inc. Plant management and the CFIA veterinarian in charge at XL Foods Inc. were notified of this finding.

The CFIA started investigating immediately to determine if the affected product was in the marketplace and available to consumers.

The detection of E. coli O157:H7 by the CFIA did not lead to an immediate recall because the CFIA quickly determined that potentially harmful product never reached the Canadian marketplace. As such, there was no basis to issue a public alert or recall. In addition, the CFIA asked Health Canada to conduct a health risk assessment to ensure that no further action was required on other products from that facility.

Having confirmed that there was no risk to consumers, the CFIA began to investigate the possible sources of contamination.

That same day, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) notified the CFIA that they had found a positive E. coli O157:H7 sample in beef trimmings from XL Food Inc. during routine testing. This product was subsequently destroyed in the US. The CFIA immediately verified that no product from this affected batch had been distributed in Canada. The CFIA immediately began an investigation of the possible source of this contamination.

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