What went wrong at XL Foods?

by Aaron Wherry

Workers at the XL Foods plant were apparently aware of problems.

Tom Hesse with the United Food and Commercial Workers said the union has heard from employees about problems that could lead to tainted meat. ”Some [workers] are saying to us, ‘No, I wouldn’t eat the product that’s produced in my own workplace’,” said Hesse. “They tell us that management has a general lack of concern for food safety practices.” The union held a special meeting with about a dozen XL Foods workers this week. There were reports that workers didn’t sterilize their knives between cuts and if they did, they couldn’t keep up with the workflow, said Hesse.

Questions are being asked about how long it took CFIA to shut down the plant. And a former government official says the CFIA should not be under the Minister of Agriculture’s purview.




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What went wrong at XL Foods?

  1. What about the union’s responsibility to speak out on the issue? The company has much more of an obligation to act, but we now know the union was aware of the issues and did nothing about it.
    They should be help up to higher standards: they are part of the problem.

    • Yes you would think if they were bothered by the practices they should have spoken out earlier.

    • In every case that I know of an employee is required to report problems to
      their supervisor … even in hospitals. Who knows what happened ?
      Also, it would be useful if you were to look at the make-up of the employee
      population of the plant (and Brooks,for that matter) and see what that might
      mean for the situation.
      And, the history of labour relations at the plant is very interesting.
      (hint:- people died.)

      • Yes there was a years long strike at the plant but that was very very long ago….over 30 years ago. As for the town of Brooks…it is a small town in a farming community. The plant has many immigrants working at it, most from Africa but the union has NEVER been one to back down…hence the years long strike. The plant is currently owned by the Nillson brothers, ranchers out of Westlock, Alberta who also own quite a few auction marts. EVERYONE in the beef business in Alberta suffered big time with the BSE crisis. It is in everyone’s best interest if the reputation of the plant and Canadian beef is restored. I am sure the size of the recall and assurances that the plant will be updated to optimal running condition before it is re-opened is to ensure that the US has no reason to keep its border closed to the plant’s products. Canadian ranchers are already suffering and this incident had nothing to do with the quality or safety of their product.

        • “… this incident had nothing to do with the quality or safety of their product.”

          Nonsense. It has a whole lot to do with cattle being feed grain in feedlots.

  2. That’s ok, the plant can use whatever standards they like, so long as we cook the meat thoroughly and wash our hands. According to the latest Con talking points.

    • Mmmm.. charbroiling; emphasis on the char

      • Does wonders for steak.

        • No….don’t pierce your steaks or get it done at Costco. Any bacteria remains only on the surface. It will be killed with regular cooking of the surface of the meat.

          • I think we can manage just fine like always

            What we need is decent meat

            Pork and lamb is now eaten pink, and lots of people like raw hamburger

          • Hahaha! Really…..are you eating your turkey, chicken and eggs raw too? It seems that we are all accepting that salmonella is rampant in those products. However, I remember as I child that alot of people drank egg nog with raw eggs in it.
            Maybe you should read the article here on Macleans about the tainted meat recalls that have happened in the US due to bacteria. This recall is tiny in comparison. Where exactly do you think this “decent” meat with absolutely no risk of any bacterial contamination is going to come from. Do you honestly think you can guarantee that no food handler is going to contaminate your food. Haven’t you ever heard of people in restaurants passing Hepatitis A on to patrons because they don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. Maybe you think this “decent meat” is going to come from Japan where all their cattle are full of radiation due the tsunami. Meanwhile, the truth of matter is that in Canada we have less incidence of E-coli in beef than we did 10 years ago. Also, if you eat beef under the age of 4 years old, BSE is no risk. Sadly though Emily since the Canadian and US beef industries are so closely related you can’t even know where your beef is from. So I suggest you get over your “liking” for raw hamburger and at the very least don’t serve it to any young children.

          • No, although soft-boiled eggs are very popular

            But that was back when we had standards, inspectors and decent food.

            Then came Harper and Alberta.

          • Yes but soft boiled are still cooked. As for standards….what about the 1993 case of hemolytic uremic syndrome from E-coli in a undercooked burger in a young Calgary girl? As for our standards….in the US in 2009, 714 people got ill and 9 died from salmonella tainted peanut butter and now they have another outbreak. There is also a Listeria outbreak in ricotta cheese from Italy. Where are the standards better than here and what makes you think they used to be better here?

          • No, the eggs are only partly cooked.

            Will you please stop trying to impress people with medical names….it’s just silly.

            And yes, we’ve had bad food since the cave days

            We just don’t expect it in 21st century Canada

          • Just because you “expect” something, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Now, stop trolling, and go back to watching Perry Mason.

          • LOL says the Troll KIng…who can’t read.

          • Huh? You want me to dumb it down for you Emily? I don’t understand….I think you know E-coli, Salmonella and Listeria are all bacterias that infect food and make people sick. Shigella is another common one. As for Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, it has been reported in the press as the illness that often results from E-coli poisoning in small children and leads to kidney failure but I could call it “hamburger disease” for you if you require it.
            As for your comment about bacteria. That may be true but we also expect people to wash their hands after they use the toilet and before they proceed to handle our food. It is just a shame that some people don’t meet our expectations and we are bound to be disappointed.

          • I said stop showing off….nobody needs the death certificate cause.

            No, we aren’t ‘bound’ to be disappointed….bring back the inspectors, and I expect criminal charges.

          • No, first came Harris and Ontario, from which many of these clowns in the CPC graduated. They refined the practice of “cutting red tape” (i.e., eliminating public safety regulations) in Walkerton. Now, they’re seeing how it works in the big leagues.

          • Harper’s Walkerton….could well be.

          • Btw…my food is labelled ‘Ontario Beef’

            Big seller at the store last weekend

      • I didn’t think cooking a burger well done was considered burning it….it just makes sense afterall I don’t think you are undercooking turkey, chicken & pork are you?

    • Haven’t same rules always applied to chicken, pork and eggs. The risk of salmonella is overwhelming if you chow down on any of these products without cooking them thoroughly. Is it really such a shock that you should cook a hamburger thoroughly and cook the outside of your steak. Also washing your hands and your countertops after handling raw meat….you find that odd advice?

      • Keep digging, conbot. This is not a personal hygeine issue, this is a tainted meat scandal, no matter how you try to spin it.

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