XL Foods faces $4M payout settlement in tainted meat recall case

In 2012 people got sick from eating tainted beef in Alberta, which prompted XL Foods to recall more than 1500 products across the country. REUTERS/Todd Korol
In 2012 people got sick from eating tainted beef in Alberta, which prompted XL Foods to recall more than 1500 products across the country. REUTERS/Todd Korol

If you’ve ever had a case of food poisoning you know it’s not a fun thing to experience.

In 2012 people got sick from eating tainted beef in Alberta, which prompted XL Foods to recall more than 1500 products across the country, with the recall eventually spreading to the United States.

The crisis forced the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to temporarily suspend XL Food’s license to operate and CFIA shut down operations at the Brooks, Alta. plant on September 27, 2012, which resulted in the temporary layoff of over 2000 employees. The CFIA allowed them to restart operations on January 14, 2013.

The recall was so widespread and affected so many products, that three Canadian law firms, amongst them Siskinds LLP, joined efforts in a class action lawsuit against XL Foods.

Today, the recall is considered the largest food recall in Canadian history. The total amount of beef recalled in Canada weights in at more than 1.5 million pounds of beef and 1800 different products. In the U.S. the recall affected over 1,143,000 kilograms of meat to date.

The court approval for the settlement funds was just announced a few days ago, which brings an end to the case. XL Foods for their part did not admit that this whole debacle was their fault, even though they’re going to be shelling out $4 million to compensate people who got sick due to tainted meat.

The question is how this could have happened on such a massive scale? Things at the plant must have been going wrong for a while, as after CFIA shut down its operations XL Foods got new management.

Another lingering question is why it took so long for the CFIA to react, with recalls only starting two weeks after the crisis began.

Perhaps what are needed to prevent such disasters in the future are higher meat-processing standards and more frequent and vigorous inspections.

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