XL Foods has issued a new statement on the massive recall at its Alberta slaughterhouse, acknowledging its processes were "not enough," outlining changes being made but stopping short of an apology.
The statement, read aloud by an unidentified woman and released through a recording, was issued after noon local time Thursday and was the first comment from the company in several days. The co-CEOs of XL Foods, Brian and Lee Nilsson, haven't responded to requests for comment.
In Thursday's statement, XL outlines a series of new safety measures that will be introduced, including expanded hot-water washing, remote surveillance and increased training.
"We believed XL Foods was a leader in the beef processing industry, with our food safety protocols, but we have now learned that it is not enough. We take full responsibility for our plant operations, and the food it produces, which is consumed by Canadians from coast to coast. We are doing everything we can to take the lead in an enhanced, comprehensive food safety program at our plant," the statement said.
Changes will include expanded testing, expanded computer monitoring of results (the CFIA has said the company failed in "trend analysis") and new training programs developed by a third party. Training is a key element of the plant's safety regime – the union has said the plant has relatively high turnover, and many staff speak little or no English. New quality control staff will also be added to both shifts at the plant.
"These changes, in addition to others, when fully integrated into our existing monitoring and statistical process control programs will allow us to improve the decision making in our prevention program. When we reopen our plant under direction from the CFIA, we will start with limited production runs under intensified testing and protocols," the statement said.
The company statement echoed Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz's statements that it won't reopen without CFIA approval, and went as far as to thank Mr. Ritz for visiting the plant early Wednesday morning.
XL also pledged to work with 48 CFIA inspectors on site, though the agency has repeatedly said it has 46 full-time staff there – 40 inspectors and six veterinarians.
It issued no apology to those who have fallen ill – four cases, none of them fatal, have been linked to the recall, with more under investigation. Instead, echoing its previous statements, XL Foods said simply it's committed to food quality.
"XL Foods is committed to producing high-quality beef products and the safety and well-being of our consumers is our number one priority. We will continue to act in their best interests throughout the implementation of the enhanced food safety systems. Food safety is simply too important to our customers, our employees and our business," the company's statement said.