XL’s Brooks beef plant may reopen this week

One of Canada’s largest beef-packing plants may reopen this week, as Canadian food authorities continue to track down millions of pounds of meat potentially tainted with E. coli O157:H7 bacteria.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is getting closer to locating all the beef products that were made at XL Foods’ Lakeside plant in Brooks, Alta. on five dates from late August into early September, CFIA spokesman Guy Gravelle said on Tuesday.

Privately held XL has to make changes to the plant to comply with six requests for corrective action from the CFIA before the agency will consider reinstating its operating licence, he said.

"From everything I’ve been told, it could open up this week sometime," he said.

The plant’s temporary closure starting last Friday has left ranchers with fewer options to sell their cattle, and prompted rival Cargill to boost production at its High River, Alta. plant.

In the meantime, the agency widened its list of recalled products as recently as late Monday, and more items could still be added, Gravelle said.

Affected food stores across Canada and most U.S. states include Wal-Mart, Costco, Safeway and Loblaw.

Many strains of E. coli are found in animals’ intestines, but O157:H7 is one of a small number that can produce toxins in people leading to illness, permanent kidney damage or death. — Reuters

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