09/28/2012 03:33 EDT | Updated 09/28/2012 06:35 EDT

Alberta Beef E. Coli Recall: CFIA Delay In Issuing Alert Questioned

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Hamburgers that are 100 percent grass-fed beef from a certified organic herd and topped with 100 percent grass-fed raw cheese are grilled by a street vendor for sale at seven USD each on July 12, 2012, in Washington, DC. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/GettyImages)

Recent beef recalls from Alberta plant XL Foods has led to heated discussions, as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and XL Foods defend a delay in alerting the public about a possible E. coli contamination while others question it.

Food safety officials in Ottawa insist that there was no initial reason to order a public recall or shut down the XL Foods meat-packing facility in Brooks, Alta.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency official Brian Evans said that when testing in the U.S. and Canada first detected a possible E. coli issue there was nothing to indicate that any tainted meat had reached store shelves.

"We were 24 hours, pedal-to-the-metal, in the plant through the (Sept. 15-16) weekend trying to satisfy ourselves that consumers were not being put at risk," he said.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford said the delay was unfortunate and that the agency needs to be held accountable, iNews880 reported.

"I think it's important for all of these agencies to work in the most timely fashion that they can. I'll leave it to the federal government and to CFIA to respond to why the delay took so long, but of course a delay is an unfortunate thing and for me the most important thing is public safety both in Alberta and across the country and I think it's important that the agency be held accountable for that," she told iNews880.

Redford said she was concerned about the impact of the recalls on Alberta's beef industry but safety was her primary concern, according to the Edmonton Journal.

“Of course the delay is an unfortunate thing, and for me the most important thing is public safety both in Alberta and across the country,” Redford said. “I think it’s important that the agency be held accountable for that.”

Alberta's NDP MP Linda Duncan was not impressed either, saying she is frustrated that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency took so long to issue an alert, QR77 reported. She told 630 CHED that it was ridiculous that it took U.S. regulatory process to take action and that there is bigger issue than what CFIA is willing to admit.

"It took the Americans to bring this to our attention, and as I understand there is an agreement between Canada and the U.S. on the border, so it's our understanding that right when the Americans detect E. Coli, immediately we should be taking action, we don't then just start over again."

The CFIA has issued at least eight recall alerts for beef products from the XL Foods plant over E. coli concerns.

Stores include Walmart, Safeway, Sobeys and IGA in Canada and the U.S.

Global reporter Jen Tryon tweeted XL Foods has been "unable to demonstrate it was consistently and effectively implementing its agreed upon control program."

With files from CP

Photo gallery Alberta Beef Recall 2012 Timeline See Gallery