MRO Magazine

Alberta community still struggling from effects of XL Foods beef recall


Industry

November 13, 2012
By PEM Magazine

BROOKS, Alta. — The Alberta town most affected by the XL Foods Inc. beef recall and E. coli scare is still struggling from the temporary shut down of the meat plant.

Community groups say people in and around Brooks who work at the region’s largest employer still haven’t recovered financially after being out of work for weeks.

About 66 people are using the Brooks Food Bank each day.

Gwen Cameron, the charity’s manager, says that is down from 177 people per day when the facility was completely closed last month, but still up substantially from the number of people who usually ask for food.

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The plant was closed on Sept. 27 due to the massive E.coli recall.

Most of the plant’s 2,000 workers were laid off on Oct. 14 and then returned to work on Oct. 30.

“We’re not through this yet,” said Lynn Pye-Matheson, executive director with Grasslands Regional Family & Community Support Services.

“Even in terms of getting back to regular pay and all the rest, for a lot of people that hasn’t occurred. A lot of people now have exhausted savings, RRSPs.

“For those families, it will continue to be difficult over the next few months.”

The plant is now being managed by JBS USA, an American subsidiary of a Brazilian company.

The facility resumed slaughtering cattle last week under increased Canadian Food Inspection Agency scrutiny, but XL Foods is still awaiting permission to market beef products from the plant.

The company also still needs permission to resume beef exports into the United States. There has been no word on when the plant will resume normal operations.

Holly Stadnicki of the Southern Alberta United Way said many of the employees are now trying to catch up on mortgages, vehicle payments and other bills.

It will take time for their lives and the local economy to settle down and return to normal, she said.

“When you drop a brick in the water and there’s the ripple effect — this is still the ripples and the rolls that are coming from that.”