OTTAWA - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says "the combination of several deficiencies" could have led to E. coli bacteria being found at a food processing plant which has recalled hundreds of beef products.
The CFIA says it has completed an in-depth review of food safety controls at Edmonton-based XL Foods Inc., where the discovery of the bacteria led to a recall of more than 250 beef products.
The agency says it continues to identify additional products affected by the recall and is conducting checks to make sure they are removed from store shelves.
The review did not identify one single factor that would have led to E.coli contamination, but said a combination of several deficiencies — which individually wouldn't have signalled immediate concern — could have played a role.
The agency says while E. coli is often present in slaughter facilities, and plants are expected to have measures to detect higher-than-normal rates, that analysis wasn't always consistent at the plant.
The CFIA also says the company wasn't able to show that it regularly reviewed or made necessary updates to its control plan for the facility.
The agency says XL Foods has developed a response plan which it will be monitoring.
The agency says there have been no reported illnesses linked to the beef.
The recall affects ground beef sold by Sobeys, Foodland, IGA, and Douglas Meats stores in the Prairie provinces, Ontario, the Maritimes and some Big Way and Super A stores.
It also includes unlabeled ground beef products sold between Aug. 24 through Sept. 16, at stores which may include small retailers, local meat markets and butcher shops.
The CFIA is advising consumers who are unsure if they have the affected product to check with the stores where they purchased the beef, or simply throw it out.
A complete list of affected stores and products can be found on the food inspection agency's website at www.inspection.gc.ca.