The plant at the centre of the biggest beef recall in Canadian history wasn't properly following some safety procedures, the head of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says.
George Da Pont said Wednesday the CFIA had issued seven corrective action requests to the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta., and was monitoring them before the agency decided to shut the plant down.
It appears the plant wasn't always using one of the measures that Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz pointed to Wednesday as a "safety valve" for the Canadian meat industry.
"When we find a shipment that has a contaminant like E. coli, such as we've found, we do what's called bracketing," Ritz said Wednesday in Calgary.
"And we take out the shipment ahead of it and the shipment behind it and search those out, and everything is brought back. That's the safety valve."
But Da Pont said the company didn't always follow those safeguards.
"What we found is that the plant was not doing appropriate trend analysis when they had spikes [in E. coli] the previous week," Da Pont said.
"We found that there were, when we did the further investigations, a few instances where the bracketing process that the minister described was not properly followed... Specifically, it seems that there were a few instances that we could document where they did not divert either the [carcass] before or after."
Later in the day, House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer approved a motion to have an emergency debate on food safety. The non-binding debate will take place between 7:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. ET.This hasn't come out of the blue. Many members of the Stephen Harper government were also in the Tory provincial government of Mike Harris in Ontario back in the 1990s, and they launched a deregulation program that led to an E. coli outbreak in the rural community of Walkerton: cow shit got into the drinking water. Seven people died.
That's why political columnist Thomas Walkom says that this is Harper's Walkerton moment.