*UPDATED October 11 with what is happening at the XL Foods plant now*
*UPDATED October 11 with updated list of products*
*UPDATED October 8 – what are the global repercussions?*
*UPDATED October 8 with updated info on E. coli*
*UPDATED October 6 to include new list of recalled foods - see other links below for more info on recall*
Steaks on the barbecue? Anyone?
I guess we can be glad Canada’s largest beef recall came after the end of barbecue season in most areas of the country (hardcore winter BBQ fans notwithstanding.) In our family, beef makes a regular appearance on the table, but most often during the warm months.
How are you feeling about your food these days? An ever expanding recall is a grave concern to us as consumers, and as families. As parents, safety is a huge concern, and yes, possibly even more so than the general population. Quite often we are feeding people who are some of the more vulnerable in the population – infants, toddlers, young children, pregnant women, breastfeeding moms. There’s a lot of anxiety that occurs when we don’t feel secure in our food choices. Ask any parent – there’s a whole lot of emotion and guilt tied in up in our food choices, preparation and planning even when things are going well. A large recall is a worry we wish we could avoid, but it’s universal and not something we can hide from.
So what are families doing now? They are checking freezers, labels and looking at the recall lists. They are returning or tossing beef. Cooking chicken, turkey, fish or pork for dinner. Some are exploring vegetarian options. Some are looking for alternative sources from which to buy their beef.
How are you handling the recall? Are you tossing out just the affected beef? All beef? Are you taking it back to the stores where it was purchased? Why or why not?
Maybe looking for alternative sources is something you have considered as well. Wondering what your options are? You could explore local farmers, local markets selling beef from small producers, or try a local CSA.
Here’s something that keeps tripping me up – remembering to pay attention to unexpected sources – we need to be checking not just the ground beef, the steaks and roasts, the premade burgers, but also the prepared foods like lasagna, pizza, filled pastas, sausages, jerky, meatballs, sandwich meat, meals prepared and frozen ahead of time, meals prepared outside the home by helpful family members or in offsite meal prep facilities. Don’t just scan for your regular grocery store or label, remember that you might be buying other brands that include beef in their ingredients (or buying prepared dishes with unexpected contents – we stopped buying a premade shepherd’s pie because it contained chicken fat. With no way to explain why this would be appropriate or necessary in a pretty simple homestyle dish, we stopped buying it.) Pay attention also to restaurant menus, ask questions and be aware!
What’s the buzz among your peers? Are people taking it in stride, or getting upset and discussing lifestyle changes? While I think in the face of a recall like this, it’s natural to feel reactive, there is a bigger picture here. Even if this recall happens to be for beef, it doesn’t mean beef or meat is inherently evil. It just happens that this event concerns beef. For those thinking they will be better off avoiding meat or adopting a vegetarian lifestyle, I invite you to remember the spinach, mango, or alfalfa recalls of years past, or check out the current warnings on packaged popcorn, blue cheese and peanut butter in Canada and the US. There are risks of contamination in many of our food sources.
How is your family dealing with the recall so far? Will it affect your food purchasing in the future? What about what you choose to eat or feed your family?
I’d love to hear your thoughts – I think there is so much to discuss, and so many varying opinions!
Here are some links you might find interesting on the beef recall (new articles are popping up every moment, so please know these are for discussion purposes only; I am not an expert, nor have I verified the science or opinions presented):
UPDATE! October 11th with what’s happening at the XL plant now: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Beef+recall+plan+resume+operations+after+coli+scare/7375097/story.html
UPDATE! October 11th with updated list of products: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/corpaffr/recarapp/2012/20121010e.shtml
UPDATE! October 8th – what are the global repercussions? http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/alberta/Beef+recall+means+Canada+must+rebuild+bridges+with+global+trading+partners/7355858/story.html
UPDATE! October 8th updated info on E. coli: http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/fact-check-what-you-might-not-know-about-e-coli-1.986225
UPDATE! October 6th list of affected foods, listed by store: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/consumer-centre/food-safety-investigations/xl-foods/recalled-products/eng/1347948154750/1347948313776
October 4th list of affected foods: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/10/04/beef-recall-xl-foods_n_1940445.html
Timeline of the XL Foods beef recall: http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/xlbeef
Why did it happen? http://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/news/xl-foods-admits-food-safety-protocols-were-lacking-after-beef-recall-expands-again/1001746117/?ref=rss&ctid=1001746117&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
Why is the recall such a hot-button political issue? http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/10/04/what-the-explaining-exactly-how-the-beef-recall-became-a-hot-political-issue/
Is budget cutting to blame? http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/10/02/pol-opposition-keeps-up-pressure-e-coli-beef-recall.html
E. coli information shared by CBC from an archived article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2009/07/02/f-ecoli-recall-food-safety.html
FAQ about the XL Foods beef recall: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/consumer-centre/food-safety-investigations/xl-foods/questions-and-answers/eng/1348090287501/1348090501848
What is happening at XL Foods now? http://news.yahoo.com/canadas-xl-foods-increase-safeguards-huge-beef-recall-212427996–finance.html
Was it preventable? Here’s an expert who says yes: http://www.globaltvbc.com/vaccine+developed+by+ubc+researcher+could+have+prevented+massive+beef+recall/6442728314/story.html
Is a smaller grocer or producer the answer? http://www.thestarphoenix.com/news/Saskatoon+small+grocers+unaffected+beef+recall/7341274/story.html
Is a vegetarian lifestyle the answer? Maybe? Or not necessarily?
Some general guidelines on food safety at home, from Canadian Beef:
And if you are on Twitter, here are some hashtags to follow: #foodsafety, #foodrecall, #XL, #XLFoods, #EColi
Have you read a great article about the recall, or some aspect we should be aware of?
Did you write one?
Share the links in the comments – this is an ongoing discussion and I’d love to keep learning.