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Canadian Beef Recall Poses Danger To U.S. Consumers, USDA Says

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A massive beef recall from Canada now affects 30 states in the U.S. Safeway and Walmart are among the stores participating in the recall. This is in addition to Albertsons' recall that started a few days ago. Cargill is also affected.

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Friday that it had decided to expand its recall of beef products from Alberta's XL Foods to include all meat produced on August 24, 27, 28 and 29 and September 5. Conditions in the slaughterhouse on those days were especially conducive to the proliferation of dangerous E. coli bacteria, a press release explained, so all beef packed that day should be considered potentially disease-bearing.

In all, the recall now affects 890,000 pounds of beef shipped to the U.S., mostly in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. However, no sickness have yet been linked to consumption of the tainted beef.

Investigations have indicated that XL Foods is largely at fault in the outbreak. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency found "a number of issues" when it inspected the plants. Yesterday, Canadian officials announced that its meat-packaging license had been suspended.

Yet the USDA has not gotten off scot-free in the affair. Earlier this week, a food safety watchdog group characterized the federal agency's response to the outbreak as "stunningly slow."

UPDATE 10/4/12 11:00 am: The Canadian beef recall has been expanded several times since it was initially issued. It now affects about 1,500 different beef products, which means that the Canadian beef recall is being applied to nearly one-third of the total beef supply of Canada. And the Canadian beef recall also gained new urgency when it was revealed that between four and 22 cases of E. coli in humans have been associated with the affected beef. All the cases reported so far were in Canada.

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