FSIS Updates Public Health Alert for Imported Canadian Beef from XL Foods

 
Congressional and Public Affairs
(202) 720-9113
Neil Gaffney

WASHINGTON, September 26, 2012 - The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is alerting the public that, in conducting standard recall effectiveness checks of U.S. domestic establishments receiving beef from XL Foods, Inc. (Canadian Establishment 038), the Agency discovered that whole muscle beef cuts produced on the same production dates as beef subject to recall in Canada were being used to produce raw ground products. Specifically, FSIS discovered that sub-primal materials (i.e., beef short ribs) produced on the same production dates as beef subject to recall in Canada were being used by a U.S. facility to manufacture other products and that the beef short ribs were being trimmed in order for the trim to be used to make ground beef.

PREPARING GROUND BEEF FOR SAFE CONSUMPTION

Wash hands before and after handling raw meat with warm/hot (preferred) or cold soapy running water by rubbing hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Also wash cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot (preferred), soapy water and clean up any spills right away. The mechanical action of vigorous rubbing of hands and utensils/surfaces creates friction that helps to dislodge bacteria and viruses from hands and surfaces. Additionally, warm/hot water helps to dissolve fats/foods, aiding in cleaning/microbe removal and can also assist in deactivation of pathogens. For more information on hand washing, go to http://www.cdc.gov/
handwashing
.

If soapy water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations. However, sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs, including viruses. Keep raw meat, fish and poultry away from other food that will not be thoroughly cooked. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry, and their juices and thoroughly cooked foods. Thoroughly cook ground meat such as beef to an internal temperature of 160° F, as measured with a food thermometer, before eating. Refrigerate raw meat and poultry within two hours after purchase (one hour if temperatures exceed 90° F). Refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within two hours after cooking.
FSIS has reason to believe, based on information provided by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), that beef from cattle slaughtered during the period associated with the recall was produced under insanitary conditions that resulted in a high event period (a period when the trim from carcasses exhibited an unusually high frequency of positive findings for the possible presence of E. coli O157:H7). Therefore, all products that are non-intact, such as trim and ground beef subject to the recall, as well as all cuts of beef that will be processed into non-intact product, are considered adulterated.

Because FSIS now has evidence gathered through its effectiveness checks that whole muscle cuts were being used to produce ground beef, the Agency is using this public health alert to make the public aware that product from these cuts are also are considered adulterated unless they receive a full lethality treatment capable of eliminating E. coli O157:H7 that may be present.

FSIS testing of raw boneless beef trim product from Canadian Establishment 038, XL Foods, Inc., confirmed positive for E. coli O157:H7 on September 3, 2012. After alerting the CFIA of the positive results, the agencies launched an investigation including additional testing, and CFIA announced a recall by XL Foods, Inc. of a variety of ground beef products on Sept. 16. FSIS also issued a Public Health Alert (PHA) on September 20, 2012, provided updated information on September 21, 2012, conducted effectiveness checks this week, and notified the public once more through today's PHA. The CFIA has expanded the scope of the recall to now include the production dates of Aug. 24, Aug. 27, Aug. 28 and Aug. 29, 2012 and FSIS has determined that a slaughter date of August 23, 2012 is common to all four production dates.

FSIS issues Public Health Alerts to make the public aware of a public health hazard. FSIS is not announcing a recall at this time because the goal of such an action is to have the establishment most directly associated with producing adulterated product remove the product from commerce. In this case, the establishment was XL Foods, Inc., a Canadian firm, and that recall has been initiated in Canada. CFIA is overseeing the effectiveness of the recall in Canada and FSIS is overseeing the effectiveness in the United States. FSIS continues to verify U.S. establishments' use of primal and non-primal cuts associated with the XL Foods recall and will take appropriate action if prohibited activity is found.

While the investigation continues, FSIS will provide information as it becomes available. The products subject to the Canadian recall were distributed to U.S. establishments in the following states: California, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin. FSIS will continue to update the retail distribution list posted on FSIS' website at www.fsis.usda.gov/FSIS_Recalls/Open_Federal_Cases/index.asp .

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure. The very young, seniors and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness.

FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume ground beef that has been cooked to a temperature of 160° F. The only way to confirm that ground beef is cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature.

Consumers with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.
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Last Modified Jul 22, 2013