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The feet of CFIA should be held to the fire over XL recall

I may have let the Canadian Food Inspection Agency off way
too easy in my earlier comments about the schmozzle concerning the massive
recall of beef from XL Foods at Brooks, Alta. And schmozzle isn’t even a good
word as it suggests some comic mixup…and there is nothing comical about it.

The shut down, which is more than a month old, has

affected the price of calves this fall at auction, and as a couple of readers
have expressed so well below, the Alberta and Canadian beef industries spends
millions to promote the Canadian beef brand, and a screw up like this can
unravel all that good work over night.

Anyway, here are the comments from a couple producers who
aren’t impressed.

Dear Editor:

This mess should never have happened and must not
happen again. 

As producers we have spent millions building the
Alberta Beef brand only to have this black eye show up as a result of
negligence I have no control over. Asia, our “gold ring” market is now suspect

of our food safety. The Americans are laughing all the way to the bank. There
goes Canada again; shooting themselves in the foot!!

This is an inspection and safety issue. There is too
much at stake for CFIA to only be responsible for training company inspectors,
doing random checks and looking at the occasional form.

As producers we must demand that every single carcass
and procedure be inspected by an independent CFIA inspector. Our current
Federal government has used budget reduction and reduced department spending to
download or default on their (our) responsibility for food safety. We must be
prepared to check a thousand clean carcasses to find the one contaminated
carcass. This is a cost of doing business and keeping business once we get it.
The taxpayers of Canada will gladly pay for clean food. The company has the
responsibility to process properly and the inspection system must put their

stamp of assurance as the last link in the chain.

For (Alberta Premier) Redford to tell people to cook
their meat well is an insult to the system and producers. She just told the
majority of people they can no longer order a medium rare or rare steak. She
did irreparable damage with that sweeping statement. She threw in the towel and
said we can’t supply you with an assured uncontaminated steak so you must cook
it white.

She should have been up one side of (federal
agriculture minister) Gerry Ritz and down the other to show her support for the
ranchers she represents. She should have said the meat was clean until the hide
came off, WHAT HAPPENED???

HOW CAN WE BE SURE IT WON’T HAPPEN AGAIN NEXT YEAR? HOW
MUCH LONGER MUST WE PUT UP WITH CFIA DODGING THEIR RESPONSIBILITY? HOW MUCH
LONGER IS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GOING TO STARVE FOOD INSPECTION SERVICES OF
ADEQUATE RESOURCES? WHY LIE TO THE PUBLIC ABOUT HIRING ADDITIONAL INSPECTORS
WHEN THOSE ADDITIONAL INSPECTORS HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CURRENT CRISIS?

Damn rights I’m mad!!!!!!!!!!

XL has admitted to an inability to keep up with the
overwhelming contamination that hit the plant this summer with all the rain and
resulting s–t soaked animals that arrived day after day at the plant. Many
similar animals arrived at Cargill. How did they handle the situation? Did they
slow the line speed? Did they hire more cleanup people? How did they avoid contamination
or did they just not get caught?

Canadians will likely forgive this fiasco but I’m not
sure overseas markets will.

This just puts more pressure on primary producers and
hastens the day when XL will own all the auctions, all the feedlots and all the
cattle.

I’m going to now take my blood pressure meds and do
some yoga.

Cheers

Norman Storch

Hanna, Alta

PS: Garden Plain looks better all the time and I had
steak for supper!
(Editor’s note:  Storch’s reference is to Garden Plains,
Kansas. In the 1980s the opening of two massive
beefpacking plants on its outskirts turned Garden City into a modern boomtown
and the first majority-minority community in Kansas. But when one of those
plants burned down in 2000, the boom went bust.)

And here are more thoughts on
the subject:

Editor:

I can’t
escape the feeling that the western beef producer is going to take a real kick
in the u-no-whats over this.

We are now
in southern Ontario, (Milton area) and the reaction is ugly. Shortly after the
first recall, the host at a white tablecloth restaurant told us after seating
that they did have beef products, none of them came from Alberta but from local
producers. They did have other entrees if we did not wish to eat beef.

Supermarkets
posted the same signs(no Alberta beef) for a few days, then replaced those
signs with “Our beef is corn fed Ontario beef”.

The most
recent signage adds “All our beef is provincially inspected corn fed
Ontario beef”

So much
for branding — how many years of work by the Beef Information Centre promoting
beef has been lost in the past month?

After a
lifetime eating our own beef, raised, fattened and butchered on our Cypress
Hills farm, I find it unsettling when I have to buy beef these days.

(I.E.- I
cringe whenever I hear the beef spokesmen saying that with “proper cooking
beef is safe”-in other words with the beef we buy we also get at no extra
cost fecal matter with E coli.)

The first
principle of TR’s (Teddy Roosevelt) pure food laws over a century was
“Food must be wholesome”.

Oh, how I
wish someone could get up and say that honestly today.

Hope all
is quiet on the western Front.

Blair
Backman

And if you
have any more thoughts on the XL Foods/CFIA beef recall, I would be glad to
hear from you.

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.
Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]

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About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.

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