10/04/2012 03:00 EDT | Updated 12/04/2012 05:12 EST

Lyle Stewart Beef Recall: E. Coli Scare Mishandled, Says Saskatchewan Minister

A hamburger made from ground beef containing what is derisively referred to as "pink slime," or what the meat industry calls "lean, finely textured beef," is ready for tasting Thursday, March 15, 2012 in Concord, N.H. Under a change announced Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, districts that get food through the government's school lunch program will be allowed to say no to ground beef containing the ammonia-treated filler and choose filler-free meat instead. The low-cost filler is made from fatty meat scraps that are heated to remove most of the fat, then treated with ammonium hydroxide gas to kill bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
REGINA - The handling of the massive beef recall from an Alberta plant is the subject of a strong worded letter by Saskatchewan's agriculture minister Lyle Stewart to the federal government.

Stewart says he is not pleased with how anyone has performed in the recall of beef products from XL Foods that was sparked by E. coli concerns.

Stewart says he is unhappy with how the Canadian Food Inspection Agency dealt with the problem last month and the closure of the plant, which handles 35 per cent of Canada's beef.

"We are not pleased with anyone's actions on this thing," Stewart said Thursday 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. They (producers) will be the people who pay the price."

A market analyst says the beef recall has already pushed down cattle prices.

"We have seen fed cattle prices in Western Canada down about $2 per hundredweight over the week," Grant Zalinko said.

"Non-fed cattle prices are off more than that, somewhere between $3 and $4 dollars per hundredweight, on those cull-cow prices."

The letter comes the same day as Sakatchewan Premier Brad Wall publicly called for answers as to the true state of food safety in Canada.

"I think we'll want to find out what our [provincial] agriculture ministry is hearing from the federal government in terms of resources available now to make sure food safety is the top priority," Wall told reporters in Regina Wednesday, just before a meeting of his provincial cabinet.

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