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September 28th, 2012
Industry impacts of beef recall
For the past two weeks, people in the cattle and beef industry have been bombarded with information about the recall of beef from the XL Foods plant in Brooks, the investigation of E. coli contamination in beef from the plant, and the subsequent actions that have been taken regarding plant operations. ABP has been closely following this situation and working with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) and Canada Beef Inc. on appropriate communications with the media, public, and the industry. CCA and Canada Beef Inc. have offered their assistance to XL, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), and retail customers in dealing with the situation. While we are not directly involved in the investigation or the remedial action, all of us are encouraging XL and CFIA to continue their diligent efforts to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.
We can’t comment on the details of the recall, the investigation, or the plant operations because these are matters involving XL, the CFIA and the USDA. The XL plant at Brooks has had a very good record on food safety and it has been a long time since there has been a recall at any of our large plants. We have been focusing our messages on reassuring consumers about the safety of our beef, the soundness of our food safety system, the research being done to better manage E. coli, and the steps consumers can take to protect their health from E. coli that may be present in many food products.
The delisting of the XL plant in Brooks for U.S. export and the temporary suspension of operations at the plant are not good news for cattle producers. As one of two large processors in Alberta, the XL plant is a major purchaser of cattle in our market and the suspension of operations will have an impact on cattle markets. The degree of the impact on cattle markets will be very dependent on the length of the temporary suspension and the time required to relist the plant for U.S. exports. Canadian and U.S. cattle supplies are currently quite low and there is processing capacity and cattle demand at other facilities in Canada and the U.S. that could reduce the impact on prices for a short period of time.
One of the most important messages for the public and for cattle producers is that Canadian beef is safe. The actions taken in this situation demonstrate the robust nature of our food safety systems and the strong steps that are taken to ensure that the public is safe. We will learn lessons from this incident and implement further strategies to make our food safety processes better.
Consumers also should recognize that E. coli O157:H7 can be present in a wide range of raw meat, poultry, greens and vegetables, unpasteurized milk and fruit juices, and human waste. They can protect their health through good personal hygiene, careful handling of food and proper food preparation. Ground beef should be cooked to a safe internal temperature of 71°C/160°.
The situation with the beef recall and temporary suspension of operations at a major processing facility is very serious for cattle producers and our beef industry. The impact of these events will increase as the time it takes to solve the problem lengthens. Obviously, the highest priority for cattle producers, ABP, XL, and CFIA is to get this situation fixed quickly.
2012 fall meeting schedule
The fall meeting schedule is now available on the homepage of the ABP website. Fall meetings are a crucial part of ABP’s democratic process and an opportunity for producers to provide input and direction for the coming year. Discussions that take place at meetings form resolutions that go to ABP’s annual general meeting in December and drive policy, goals and objectives. It gives producers the chance to meet and engage returning and new delegates that represent their zone. For the full meeting schedule go to www.albertabeef.org/res/Fall2012.pdf.
Webinar: Q & A with ABP Chair Doug Sawyer
As we head into ABP’s fall meetings, we figured what better time than now to offer up our Chair to answer all of your cattle industry queries. Wednesday, October 17 beginning at 7 p.m. ABP Chair Doug Sawyer will be available online for what will hopefully be an intense, highly informative question and answer session. You can login on to discuss current industry events, what ABP has been working on, or anything else you would like to know that is applicable. This is a perfect opportunity to be better informed heading into the ABP fall meeting in your area.
Webinars are like attending a conference, but in your own home or office. You log onto a website, turn up your computer speakers or join by phone. The moderator will let you know when the webinar is about to begin and will keep the event moving smoothly. As a participant, you will be able to ask questions throughout the webinar. Attendance is free and you can click here to register.
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