XL Foods has broken their silence by releasing a statement today to address the E. Coli outbreak at it’s Brooks, Alberta packing plant. For many inside the industry this statement is about 7-10 days too late but nevertheless they have finally spoken.
For some communications experts we have talked to, this statement is the first step to repairing the brand moving forward. How consumers react to this sort of admission is hard to predict but at least the finger pointing appears to of taken a break on the Thursday before Thanksgiving. It will be interesting to see if CFIA takes any responsibility in the coming weeks or if they hold firm that all processes were properly followed.
The press release is below.
October 4, 2012
XL Foods Inc. is fully committed, and working diligently with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (“CFIA”), to implement changes to our food safety system to exceed existing high standards and regain the trust of Canadian consumers.
We are appreciative that Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz took the time to tour our facility. We will only re-open the Brooks facility when the CFIA are completely satisfied that the health of Canadians is not at risk.
We believed XL Foods was a leader in the beef processing industry with ourfood safety protocols, but we have now learned it was not enough. We take full responsibility for our plant operations and the food it produces, which is consumed by Canadians from coast to coast.
We are doing everything we can to take the lead in an enhanced comprehensive food safety program for our plant.
XL Foods has targeted prevention, process verification and correction, response and product control as areas where food safety enhancements are required.
These improvements include the fact that the plant will re-open under intensified and enhanced testing protocols. E coli tests take at least 18 hours to complete as cultures are grown and meat will continue to be held under quarantine until results have been analyzed.
The intensified protocol will improve our process verification. Testing results have always been supplied to CFIA inspectors at the plant every day and will continue to be.
The plant will also include remote video auditing to significantly inform our supervisory oversight as we become the first Canadian business to use this 21st century technology in a food safety program. We have extended our high pressure, hot water wash intervention where sides of beef are washed with 185 degree F water to eliminate any possible E. coli contamination. We have also increased computer monitoring of this intervention to ensure it operates at peak capacity at all times.
And our training program will be re-designed by third party experts to ensure the highest quality training is consistently available to our management and employees.
We will also add additional quality control personnel to each shift with primary duties to monitor all our sanitary dressing programs and practices.
These changes, in addition to others, when fully integrated into our existing monitoring and statistical process control programs, will allow us to improve the decision-making in our prevention program.
When we re-open our plant under direction from the CFIA, we will start with limited production runs with intensified testing protocols. We will work collaboratively with the 48 CFIA inspectors who work at the XL Foods facility to ensure something like this never happens again.
XL Foods is committed to producing high quality beef products, and the safety and wellbeing of our consumers is our number one priority. We will continue to act in their best interests throughout the implementation of the enhanced food safety systems.
Food safety is simply too important to our customers, our employees and our business.