Canada's largest beef recall due to E.coli O157:H7
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Canada has a very complex food safety system. It is managed on many different levels involving the Federal, Provincial, Territorial, Local and Regional levels. It also involves the consumer and food processor. When all of these systems work together, Canada has one of the best food safety systems in the world. The CFIA is the agency that ultimately makes sure this system is running properly and effectively. Beef cattle are a major part of the Canadian Agricultural industry. There are over 60,000 beef cattle farms across Canada, with a large number of those being in the province of Alberta. The beef cattle are raised in a three phase system. First phase is the cow calf farm which produces weanling calves. Next is a growing phase which is then followed by a finishing phase usually completed at a feedlot. It is common for two or three of these phases to be combined on a single farm. Beef cattle are then lastly brought to a slaughterhouse which must be either provincially or federally registered. All meat must be both processed and inspected inside the processing facility. This inspection is done not only by the staff of the facility but more importantly by CFIA inspectors to make sure they are following the Canadian food safety system. XL Foods Inc. was the second largest meat processing and packing company in Canada. In the fall of 2012 there was an E.coli O157:H7 contamination at this plant, which led to the biggest beef recall in Canada history and the end of XL Foods. 18 people became ill and 4000 tons of beef was recalled. All of which was traced back to a single strain of E.coli O157:H7 coming from the plant. Outside investigations were done and it clearly showed there were gaps in following the food safety system. The cause for this outbreak was not the lack of regulations, but the neglect of these regulations by multiple individuals at the same time.