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Canadian meat-processing plant license suspended over Listeriosis concerns

November 27, 2012
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EDMONTON, Alberta — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has suspended the operating license of a family-owned meat-processing plant in Edmonton, over concerns that the production might be contaminated with Listeria.

CFIA officials said in a statement that controls over food safety had not been implemented properly and consistently. As a result of a failure to ensure food safety, testing in the plant discovered Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can cause serious illness and, in certain cases, death, on the uniform of one of the workers at Capital Packers Inc. Contaminated products cannot be detected by consumers, as they typically do not smell or look as if spoiled.

Because of the findings, the regulator will now have control over the production until Capital Packers develops a strategy for more effective implementation of food-safety measures, the CFIA statement said. So far, no cases of health problems associated with possible Listeria contamination have been reported.

RELATED: Meat products recalled due to Listeria contamination

This is not the first time that the company has been found to be negligent. Earlier this year, the CFIA discovered that Capital Packers was not keeping proper documentation on product distribution and issued 11 corrective action requests to the business, including recommendations to improve storage, sanitation, transportation, shipping and information handling, as well as concerns relating to building maintenance. However, inspectors recently found that those issues have still not been resolved and decided to take preventive measures and suspend operations at the plant.

Production at Capital Packers was also temporarily halted in September 2011 due to matters concerning ventilation and condensation at the plant.

Capital Packers initially said that the entire production that was manufactured around the time of inspection was still in the company''s control and had not left the processing plant. However, the CFIA investigation found that some products had already been distributed. The CFIA promised to inform the public immediately if there are indications that any of the products shipped from the plant pose potential risks to consumers, particularly related to Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Capital Packers voluntarily recalled all meat produced at the time the contamination was discovered. The products that have been recalled are Capital Ham Sausage, a 300-g package, and Compliments Ham Sausage, a 375-g package.

At present, Capital Packers and the CFIA are conducting more tests at the plant and are trying to track down potentially risky products in the supply chain. It is possible that more products will be recalled, as more test results are to be revealed, the CFIA explained.

Commenting on the matter, Brent Komarnicki, president of Capital Packers, said in an interview for CTV News that the company is working closely with the CFIA to resolve the problem as fast as possible and get the plant working again. Capital Packers employs between 60 and 70 workers and Komarnicki assured CTV News that they should not be worried about their jobs.

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