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Updated: 6th January 2019 08:54

XL Foods meat plant can resume U.S. shipments, CFIA says

An Alberta meat plant involved in a massive recall of tainted beef over E. Coli concerns is once again being allowed to ship products to the United States.

The XL Foods meat plant in Brooks, Alta., will be able to resume shipments to the U.S. after it was decertified on Sept. 13 because of E. Coli concerns. (Larry MacDougal/Canadian Press)

An Alberta meat plant involved in a massive recall of tainted beef over E. Coli concerns is once again being allowed to ship products to the United States.

The U.S Department of Agriculture has relisted the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the plant can resume exports to the U.S., effective immediately.

Doug O'Halloran, head of the union representing workers at the plant, says the announcement is good news.

"If they were not able to get the inspection into the U.S. at some point in time it would mean that they would have to cut back on processing and they wouldn't be able to process as many cows and what have you," he said. "So this is a very good thing from that aspect."

The plant was decertified from exporting meat to the U.S. on Sept. 13, and thousands of XL Foods ground beef products were recalled across the country.

A massive recall — called one of the largest in history — was also implemented in Canada, and 18 people became ill across the country.

The CFIA restored the plant's operating licence on Oct. 23.

The plant's operations have been taken over by JBS USA, an American subsidiary of a Brazilian-owned enterprise that has an option to buy the plant. 

"It certainly shows that JBS is on track with all its commitments for providing food safety," said O'Halloran, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401.

"As well as the issue of sales, a large majority of the product that they process in the plant goes south of the border, so this speaks well for the workers' job security over the next period of time. And I think it sends a good, strong message to Canadians that with the U.S. opening up the borders ... food safety is back on track."

Agency inspectors continue to monitor its operations.

"This is very good news for Alberta and Canadian beef producers, the employees of the plant, the owners and operators of XL Foods Inc., and for the community of Brooks," said Alberta's Agriculture Minister Verlyn Olson. 

"It has been a long and difficult process. However, we all will agree that ensuring safe food products remains the utmost importance."

With files from CBC News

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