Canadian Manufacturing

Troubled Alberta XL Foods meat plant can resume shipments to US

Plant in Brooks, Alta., can immediately resume exporting after being re-listed Dec. 7


OTTAWA—An Alberta meat plant involved in a massive recall of tainted beef over E. Coli concerns is once again being allowed to ship products to the United States.

The XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta., can immediately resume exporting after the U.S Department of Agriculture re-listed the plant Dec. 7.

“It’s tremendous news for the company,” said Cameron Bruett, a spokesman for JBS, the Brazil-based meatpacking giant that is now operating the XL plant under an agreement with its owners.

Bruett said the plant is now operating about 75 per cent of capacity.

Production will be ramped up in accordance with Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) protocols, he said.

“We’re moving to get it to full capacity as soon as possible,” said Bruett.

JBS’s next step will be to ensure beef from the plant is welcome on American grocery store shelves.

“We’ll have to talk to our customers about their wants and needs,” said Bruett. “We’ve been doing that and we’ll continue to do that to make sure we’re securing access for the products produced at the plant.

“We don’t foresee any problems.”

Canadian cattle producers should see improved prices for their animals as the XL plant gets back up to full steam, said Canadian Cattleman’s Association president Martin Unrau.

“When you have competition for the live animal you end up with higher prices at the end of the day. It’ll definitely reflect in the pricing in the new year.”

Unrau said the ruling sends a good message to other export markets as well.

“It sends a signal to the rest of our export partners that we’re out in the open with all of our plants and able to trade with the U.S. It’s very positive for us.”

The plant was decertified from exporting meat to the U.S. on Sept. 13, and the Americans recalled XL Foods ground beef products.

The CFIA restored the plant’s operating licence on Oct. 23.

The plant’s operations have been taken over by JBS USA, an American subsidiary of a Brazilian-owned enterprise that has an option to buy the plant as well as other operations of Edmonton-based XL Foods.

Agency inspectors continue to monitor the plant’s operations.