For the past several weeks, the crisis caused by the shutdown of the XL Foods plant in Brooks and several cases of confirmed E. coli related illness have continued to dominate headlines across the province.
My thoughts go out to those who have been affected by E. coli as well as to the workers who have been unable to work since the plant shut down. The plant in Brooks is a significant economic driver and the impact of the shutdown has already been far reaching.
The safety of consumers and getting workers back to work in Brooks need to be the top priorities from all concerned parties. Provincial, federal and company representatives need to continue to work together to get workers back to work and the plant on line once the problems have been fixed.
Furthermore, concrete action must be taken to ensure something like this never happens again. This gap in safety protocols should have never happened. Albertans have a right to expect answers and accountability.
That’s why Wildrose has called for a full and complete investigation into the causes of the outbreak once the plant is back up and running. An investigation to find out what went wrong is needed to provide confidence to consumers and the beef industry.
Alberta beef is a premium product. It was before the outbreak and will continue to be so after. It is unfortunate something out of the hands of our province’s cattle producers has had such a dramatic effect on their livelihoods. I can relate to this personally, being the proud son of a cow-calf operator.
While it is devastating that several people became ill, it is noteworthy that this recent outbreak pales in comparison to past E. coli outbreaks. Only a few years ago, thousands of people were affected from E. coli found on vegetable products like spinach and bean sprouts. Nonetheless, any unsafe food products must be dealt with seriously and responsibly.
On Oct. 10, Wildrose Official Opposition held a beef barbecue in support of the Alberta beef industry, with some help from friends with Alberta Beef Producers. Wildrose MLAs, media outlets, legislature staff and members of the public attended to show their support and to drive home the message that Alberta produces the best beef in the world. And of course eating some great burgers made with 100% Alberta beef was a key part of the day.
Wildrose will continue to put Albertans first, and that means supporting our producers and demanding accountability for this incident so Albertans won’t have to deal with something like this again.