Alberta Health Services has confirmed that it is now investigating 10 different cases of people falling ill from E. coli.
Of those cases, five are linked to the E. coli outbreak from the XL Foods meat-processing plant and involve meat purchased at an Edmonton Costco.
The provincial health agency confirmed the news Tuesday afternoon, shortly after the NDP and Liberals slammed the government’s handling of the massive beef recall during question period.
Both NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Bob Rae accused the government of attempting to shift responsibility for the recall onto the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. But the government maintained that the CFIA acted as soon as it was notified about the E. coli contamination and is continuing its investigation.
Mulcair called on the government to take responsibility for the recall and not shirk it onto civil servants, specifically the CFIA.
“You can’t pass the buck to civil servants. You can’t keep their feet to the fire. What you can do is take responsibility and be accountable,” he said.
Rae also accused the government of passing responsibility for the beef recall onto the CFIA after it was expanded this week.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper rose in question period to say the agency has been working ever since it was alerted to the outbreak on Sept. 4. He also said that under his government funding for the agency has increased, as has the number of mill inspectors.
“The government has added 700 net mill inspectors since 2006,” said Harper.
Parliamentary secretary to the minister of agriculture Pierre Lemieux also defended the government’s response to the beef recall.
“Canadian consumers are always a first priority when it comes to food safety for our government,” said Lemieux. Lemieux accused the NDP of voting against measures to increase resources and funding for the CFIA in the past.
The largest beef recall in Canadian history has been expanded to include steaks, strip loins and sausages sold coast-to-coast. The expanded recall was announced by the CFIA earlier Tuesday as food safety officials continue to investigate the Alberta-based meat-packing plant.I didn't put a link to Alberta Health Services in the first paragraph because then you might have wasted your time trying to find the announcement—or any announcement—about the beef problem. Surprising and disappointing.