XL Foods union presses company to address safety concerns

The union representing workers at XL Foods, at the centre of a massive recall over concerns of tainted beef products, says conditions inside the Brooks, Alta., meat-packing plant are still not safe, despite the company stand that it has addressed all the concerns.

The Lakeside Packers plant shut down on Sept. 27 after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency linked the facility to several beef products tainted with E.coli.

More than 1,800 products have been recalled.

On Tuesday, the CFIA began conducting a “detailed assessment” of the plant.

Agency officials said they will check safety controls and determine if XL Foods has fixed the problems that were uncovered by federal inspectors.

Union pushes for review of ‘line speeds’

In a statement issued Tuesday, the company said it “has completed implementing corrective action requests issued by the CFIA following the findings of their investigation.”

But Commercial Workers Local 401 — the union representing XL Foods workers— still have concerns about food safety procedures.

“The union has sought and continues to seek a review of line speeds and reduction in line speeds to ensure that workers have adequate time to deal with food safety matters,” the union wrote in a statement on its website. “Line speeds are a serious problem. Employees are pushed too hard as Lakeside is more concerned, it seems, with the quantity of beef produced rather than the quality of beef produced.”

The statement also cites dirty washrooms and continued sewage backup as problems that need to be addressed.

Union president Doug O’Halloran and Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan are holding a news conference in Brooks at 2 p.m. MT Wednesday.

The union expects many of the 2,200 workers will restart work in the next few days, but it isn’t clear when the plant will officially reopen.

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