10/04/2012 05:05 EDT | Updated 12/04/2012 05:12 EST

E. Coli Beef Recall: Alberta Premier Alison Redford Questions When Testing Is Done


EDMONTON - Premier Alison Redford wants answers over some aspects of testing as concerns over E. coli in beef from a southern Alberta meat-packing plant continue to grow.

Redford says there may be ways to improve the timing of tests to prevent situations such as the recall of meat from XL Foods which now includes more than 1,500 products.

"When this is all over, I think one of the questions that we need to look at is how testing is done — not in terms of the quality of the testing but the timing of the testing," she said Thursday.

She's wondering if there may also be improved technologies that could improve testing results.

"Could we have better technology that allows for better responses?

"Those are very appropriate questions and I would expect that after this sort of an incident that that would be something that we do."

NDP Leader Brian Mason said Redford needs to take action now.

"It’s not acceptable that the premier is failing to defend Alberta while her counterparts in Ottawa made major cuts to the inspection and safety of one of our province’s biggest industries,” Mason said.

He criticized Redford for not pressing federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz for explanations during his brief visit Wednesday to the affected plant in Brooks, Alta.

"She has been standing idly by ... letting the federal agriculture minister swoop in for a photo-op without providing real answers to the public."

Saskatchewan's agriculture minister has sent a letter to the federal government complaining about the handling of the recall.

Lyle Stewart says he is unhappy with how the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has dealt with the problem.

"We are not pleased with anyone's actions on this thing," Stewart said in Regina.

"The timelines that we are learning about are disconcerting. It is unfortunate when our producers produce a safe product and further down the value chain things go off of the rails."

The XL plant in Brooks, Alta., which handles 35 per cent of Canada's beef, remains closed.

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