I love beef. Burgers, steaks, roasts, tacos and even meatloaf. As an Albertan, I can proudly say I eat some of the finest beef in the entire world. My dad has been a Red Seal Chef for close to 40 years, and I'm not too shabby in a kitchen myself. So did we feel bad when we had throw out a ton of beef we bought on sale from Wal-Mart, because it might be contaminated by E.Coli? Yes we did.
The management of XL Foods Inc., which has been in the news for causing the biggest beef recall in Canadian history, has not figured out the most important issue is how the company governs food safety. Neither XL foods or its parent company appear to have any independent directors, who are essential to ensuring internal management does not cut corners. No one likes to be controlled, least of which entrepreneurial employees. However, ask yourself if defective internal controls are worth the price, in terms of reputation and financial loss. It can indeed be a run on the bank if consumers don't have confidence, and it can get worse unless governance checks are put in place.
Establishment 38 is not a lunar outpost operated by Weyland-Yutani. It is a slaughterhouse and meat processing plant in Brooks, Alberta, operated by XL Foods Inc. The CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) has suspended the operating license of Establishment 38 because of the detected presence of E. coli O157:H7. Another food recall, this one crossing almost all provincial borders, is today's sobering headline reality. While the scientists, researchers and investigators of the CFIA have E. coli O157:H7 under the microscope, Canadians have also placed Canada's food safety system on a slide and we're collectively scrutinizing how we got ourselves into such a pickle. Our massively complex global food system involves billions of supply chain transactions daily. The relationship with the consumer has evolved and citizens must diligently participate in the food equation in order to prevent food borne illnesses. But, do we have the skills to be active participants in a food system we interact with on multiple occasions daily?