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article imageOp-Ed: XL foods dumps tainted meat in landfill

By Ken Hanly     Oct 22, 2012 in Business
Brooks - XL Foods is burying meat tainted with E.coli in a landfill near Brooks, Allberta. The XL plant where the contamination happened is located in Brooks. 1.3 million pounds of beef is being buried supervised by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
The meat, frozen in boxes, is mostly ground beef and trimmings but so far not higher quality cuts. Ray Juska, landfill manager, said his crews cover the boxes with dirt:“It’s to keep out vectors, primarily seagulls is what we have here, and it’s also a requirement of the CFIA so nobody can go back and help themselves to some off-spec meat." Juska hopes by disposing of the material, the facility can speed up the process of workers getting back to work. It is not known how much meat XL will need to clear from the plant.
The leader of the Wildrose Party, Danielle Smith, got into trouble when she responded to a tweet by Ray Yechtel who asked Smith whether the meat could be saved to feed the poor instead of being buried in a landfill. A good question IMHO, although why feed it to the poor rather than putting it in cooked canned goods such as chili which is actually done in the U.S? In the 2002, massive recall of ConAgra Beef Co. for E coli contamination, 70,000 lbs of the beef was re-used in canned chili, spaghetti sauce, and beef ravioli. ConAgra spokesperson Jim Herlihy called this "standard procedure".
Smith responded to the tweet: "I agree. We all know thorough cooking kills E. coli. What a waste." The response to Smith was to her emphasis upon feeding the meat to the poor, as if it were OK for the poor to eat the meat but not everyone else. Smith responded that what she was emphasizing was that it was safe to eat the tainted meat and that it was Yechtel who had suggested feeding it to the poor. She said that she would purchase recalled meat if it were approved for sale.
Smith said that she would defer to the Food Inspection Agency who had decided it could not be used. These are the same people whose inspection process failed and led to this situation along with other factors. Why should we defer to them when other jurisdictions recycle the beef? Even if it were not recycled for human consumption, it could be used in pet foods. Smith's remark about cooking is simply true and not in dispute, so why not have the inspection agency oversee the recycling process? The agency could test to see that no E coli remained instead of overseeing the burial of meat in a landfill.
The whole E coli issue has other strange features. For example, only if a plant is licensed federally so it can export is E coli inspection even required. A plant at Pitt Meadows B.C. is a good example. It had troubles with a whistle-blower who pointed out that it did not report positive E. coli results. The solution for the plant was to simply be licenced provincially. Ritinder Harry, of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, said that provincial meat processors, are not required to test regularly for pathogens since "the likelihood of finding a contaminated sample is very low." Perhaps, some tightening of regulations at the provincial level are in order!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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