Alberta Premier Alison Redford (C) answers questions during a news conference regarding the E. coli outbreak after a meeting with cattle ranchers at the Bell L ranch near Airdrie, Alberta, September 30, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Todd Korol
Alison Redford was joined by Agriculture Minister Verlyn Olson at Bell L Ranch just outside Airdrie, Alta., Sunday to meet with cattle producers in the wake of the XL Foods plant closure.
The federally regulated plant in September issued a recall for hundreds of meat products due to E. coli contamination concerns and last week the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) temporarily suspended the company's licence.
The recall was expanded again Sunday to cover more products, including a variety of steaks, ribs and roasts.
Affected products have manufacturing dates of Aug. 24, 27, 28, 29 and Sept. 5, reports the CFIA.
But Redford said Alberta's beef industry will prevail.
"We stand behind our producers and we stand behind the product that they produce," said Redford.
"We certainly have a circumstance right now with respect to one company that is having some challenges with respect to regulations, but there is Alberta beef that is being produced right across this province today that is safe to eat.
"Let's remember to cook it well and let's ensure that as we move ahead that we get this plant reopened so that we can keep the economy moving and we can again have confidence in this terribly important product that we have."
She said after things are resolved, the province will look at whether safety alerts were issued in a timely fashion.
Rancher Wayne Hanson said one of his biggest concerns about the situation is the timing of the closure, which comes just as ranchers begin to market their product.
He said cattle prices have dropped significantly and another concern is consumer confidence.
"As long as we're doing our job to make sure that when (the cows) leave the farm everything's safe, that's our responsibility and it's frustrating when things go wrong after that," Hanson said.
Dr. David Chalack, chairman of the board with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency Ltd. (ALMA) said the XL plant processes about one-third of slaughter capacity in Canada each year.
"This is about business as well as human health -- of course human health takes the priority, but from the business side, if that plant is down for more than a week, if we go through this next week without that plant being able to kill 2,500 head a day, then that has some serious ramifications," he said.
Recalled products are listed at http://www.inspection.gc.ca/recalls