OTTAWA - Health officials are investigating whether a person who got sick from E. coli in Newfoundland is the sixth case to be linked to an Alberta meat plant at the centre of a major beef recall.
Newfoundland and Labrador's Health Department said Friday a person in the eastern part of the province was infected by a specific strain of the bacteria being investigated at XL Foods Inc.
The person has recovered and officials are still trying to determine the source of the E. coli.
The Alberta government has reported that five people fell ill last month from E. coli linked to steaks processed at the XL Foods plant in Brooks, southeast of Calgary.
Tests are being done to track down the source of E. coli in four other cases in Alberta, 13 in Saskatchewan and one in British Columbia.
E. coli was first detected in the plant on Sept. 4, but it took 12 days for the first of numerous public alerts to be issued, leading to the recall of more than 1,800 XL Foods beef products across Canada and much of the United States.
It then took nearly two weeks for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to shut down the plant on Sept. 27.
Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz came under opposition fire in the House of Commons again Friday. The NDP has asked him to apologize to Canadians and resign.
Ritz repeated that food safety remains a priority for the Harper government. He has said the XL plant will not be allowed to reopen until investigators are satisfied it is safe.
Government officials released a few more details Friday about the ongoing investigation into the plant.
Harpreet Kochhar with the Public Health Agency of Canada told reporters XL Foods had a plan in place to battle E. coli, but wasn't following or updating that plan.
He said the plan, known as a hazard analysis and critical control points plan, is a regulatory requirement.
"When we looked into it in depth, we found that there was an existing plan but the company was not following that plan accordingly."
The public health agency later issued a press release citing insufficient record keeping related to monitoring and equipment maintenance, as well as deficiencies in sampling techniques and procedures.
It earlier revealed the company was not doing proper "trend analysis'' when it saw spikes the week before the E. coli was found. A practice known as "bracketing," in which shipments before and after one that contains a positive test are diverted from the line, also wasn't followed properly.
The agency further listed 10 maintenance and sanitation infractions, but said the issues would not typically contribute to E. coli contamination. Inspectors found some XL staff were not wearing beard nets, some did not follow proper washing procedures and the thermometer on the evisceration table was not working properly.
The agency said no single factor led to E. coli contamination at the plant.
"The combination of several deficiencies could have played a role," said the news release. "By themselves, each of these findings would not typically signal an immediate concern during the course of normal inspection activities."
In the early days of the outbreak, XL Foods wasn't quick to hand over important information to investigators.
Officials said they requested documents from XL Foods by Sept. 8, but the company missed the deadline by two days and the paper it did hand over was unusable. XL Foods provided officials with better information starting Sept. 11, but more requests had to be made later.
Karen McIntyre, an executive director with the public health agency, said officials didn't have enough of a reason to down the plant when the company withheld the information.
"At that time, the important point was we didn't have any illnesses. We didn't have that evidence to suggest that we had a problem in the plant. That was the information that we were looking for in the documentation that we were requesting."
A lawsuit was filed this week in Edmonton against XL Foods. It claims the company was aware of its poor quality control and put profits above consumer safety. An Edmonton man who got sick after eating an XL steak is named as the plaintiff in the case.
Two law firms in Alberta and one in Ontario are applying together to have the claim certified as a class-action, representing not only people who got sick but those who simply want refunds for meat they had to throw away.
The lawsuit contains allegations that have not been proven in court.
Cows are slaughtered at XL Foods Inc. plant in Brooks, Alta. Beef slaughtered that day will later be recalled.
August 24, 27, 28 & 29
Beef processed at the Brooks facility on these days is later recalled.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is alerted by U.S. officials that beef from the Brooks plant has tested positive for E. coli bacteria. An investigation begins.
Four consumers who bought Kirkland Signature brand strip loin grilling steaks from Edmonton Costco at 13650 50th St. N.E. later become ill.
A Calgary girl, 4, is hospitalized for symptoms caused by E. coli bacteria.
September 11 & 12
Four in Edmonton who ate Kirkland strip loin steak seek medical for symptoms of E. coli poisoning. Two went to hospital but all four are recovering.
The CFIA issues their first warning, telling people not to eat, sell or serve 26 ground beef/ground-beef products sold at several major stores because they “may be contaminated with E. coli.” Although XL Foods Inc. voluntarily issued the recall, no reported illnesses have been linked to this recall.
55 more ground beef and ground-beef products are added to the list of products recalled across Canada. All were manufactured at the XL plant in Brooks, Alta.
Fourteen more products are added to the recall list.
XL Foods releases a statement saying XL Foods prides itself on providing safe and high quality beef products. Meanwhile, the recall list by the CFIA grows to add 75 more items.
The United States Food Safety and Inspection Service issues a public-health alert, while the CFIA adds another 37 products to the recall.
Another 47 products are added to the recall.
Another 10 products are added to the recall.
An in-depth review uncovers “several deficiencies” during an investigation into the Brooks facility.
- 60 products to the Canadian recall. - U.S. recalls products in California, Oregon, Michigan, Nebraska, Utah, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. - Alberta Health Services (AHS) investigate a total of eight E. coli cases - four in Edmonton, three in Calgary and one in central Alberta. The tests confirm Edmonton patients were infected by E. coli-tainted steaks bought at Costco. The CFIA is notified about the test results.
- The CFIA recalls Kirkland steaks packaged and sold September 4-7 from the Edmonton Costco. - It is confirmed the steaks were processed by XL Foods Inc. in Brooks. - Costco stores are asked by top doctors to stop using a meat-tenderizing machine that could potentially move E. coli bacteria from the surface of the meat to the centre. - Ten states are now affected by the The United States Food Safety and Inspection Service recall.
AHS investigates a fourth case of E. coli in Calgary. AHS is investigating what caused E. coli poisoning in the Calgary patient and the central Alberta patient.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency suspends the operating licence of XL Foods' Brooks plant.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency suspends the operating licence of XL Foods' Brooks plant
There was no initial reason to order a public recall or shut down the XL Foods facility in Brooks, say officials from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, defending their delay in alerting the public.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency comes under fire. Alberta Premier Alison Redford and NDP MP Linda Duncan question the delay in alert.
The Canadian Cattlemen's Association says it's possible federal regulators will clear the XL Foods beef plant to resume operations by next week but the real challenge will be getting U.S. to accept beef exports from the plant again.
The beef recall expanded to Co-Op, Metro and Walmart stores in Canada.
The beef recall gets expanded to include dozens of cuts of meat.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford says Alberta beef is safe and that the province breeds a high quality product with the highest standards possible.
The Liberals and the NDP gang up on the Conservative government over the safety of Canada's meat supply.
Beef recall is expanded again. This time to include dozens of additional products including roasts and sausages.
The XL Foods beef recall gets expanded to B.C. More than 20 B.C. retail chains pull beef products from their shelves as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency continues to expand the recall from the plant.
The XL foods beef recall becomes the biggest beef recall in Canadian history.
XL Foods finally breaks silence, issuing a press release in which they took responsibility for the circumstances that led to the recalls. Not much was made available in terms of explanation or courses of action. Meanwhile, the recall is expanded yet again.
Workers at the XL plant in Brooks speak out and what they have to say is not pretty. They describe high output demands, low staffing levels of disgusting hygiene issues. Meanwhile, the CFIA says the plant failed to maintain or update it's E. coli plan.
Five new E. coli cases are linked to the tainted meat. Recall expands again.
The beef recall, the largest in Canadian history, got much bigger with meats being pulled off shelves in Hong Kong.
Federal inspectors begin a detailed assessment of the Brooks XL Foods Plant. The investigation would last weeks.
This little baby starts making its rounds... Meanwhile, the union at the plant said it was a case of greed over health that led to the massive recall and claim the plant is nowhere near safe.
A partial reopening of the plant is considered and Alberta Premier Alison Redford rejects calls for a provincial inquiry into the recall.
The U.S. announces it will audit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, as Quebec E. coli cases are linked to the Alberta plant and new E. coli cases are confirmed in B.C.
2,000 workers at the XL Foods plant in Brooks are temporarily laid off.
800 of the 2,000 workers temporarily laid off the day before are recalled so that CFIA can continue its investigation in the plant.
JBS USA announce they're taking over the management of the plant and reserve the option to purchase XL Foods. Earlier that day, workers at the plant were laid off again, as the recall of beef products expands yet again.
Also on the 17th, B.C. residents announce their intent to sue XL Foods over E. coli-tainted meat, as Brooks declares itself in a state of crisis due to the thousands of workers, many of them of foreign origin and of modest means, are left without income and in need of services.
JBS USA announces it intends to work with the union and the community to fix the conditions in the plant that led to the massive beef recalls.
The CFIA announces that some of the meat stored in warehouses after the recalls may end up on your dinner table once the recalls end. Meanwhile, remaining carcasses at the plant test negative for E. coli.
Tons of meant from the XL Foods plant is tossed into Alberta landfills.
Former XL Foods manager says CFIA inspectors require better training. Later that afternoon, it is announced that all workers would return to the plant on Oct. 29 for further training and to partially reopen the beleaguered plant.
JBS CEO Bill Rupp addressed the Brooks plant, the community and the media and vowed that safety at the plant would be the number one priority, adding the culture at the plant would change for the better.
Production at the XL Foods plant in Brooks resumes for the first time since E. Coli tainted meat from the plant resulted in the largest Canadian beef recall in history.
R-CALF, a U.S. ranchers lobby group, asks U.S. courts to block the possible sale of the Brools XL Foods plant to JBS USA, which is at the time managing the plant but which has reserved the option to buy the Alberta facility, as well as some U.S. plants. (Getty)
Another case of E. coli is linked to the XL Foods Inc. plant in Alberta. The Public Health Agency of Canada says the case was in Quebec, bringing the total number of confirmed cases across the country to 17.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency discloses that its staff observed a number of problems at XL Foods the previous week, as the plant worked to get back to normal operations. They included meat areas that weren't adequately cleaned and water sanitizer that wasn't maintained at a high enough temperature.
The total number of e-coli cases across the country linked to the XL Foods Brooks plant climbs to 18. The Public Health Agency of Canada said the new case is in Alberta.