The sale of the Alberta meat plant at the centre of Canada's largest beef recall is now one step closer to becoming reality.

JBS says it hasn't yet bought the XL Foods meat plant in Brooks, Alta., but it is moving through the steps necessary to make that happen.

Just days before Christmas, the province granted the company an exemption from foreign land ownership rules.

In the fall — in the midst of an E. coli scare that stretched across the country — the meat packing plant was forced to close after several deficiencies were identified by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The plant was allowed to resume operations in October under enhanced oversight.

Just before it reopened, JBS stepped in to manage the plant in a deal that gave them an exclusive option to buy the Canadian and U.S. operations of XL Foods.

The Brazilian-based company is one of the world's biggest meat processing operations, and its arrival on the scene was welcomed among many in Alberta's cattle industry who feared for the troubled plant's future.

A JBS spokesperson says there is no timeline for a potential sale.