XL Foods has dumped hundreds of tonnes of frozen beef into a landfill in Brooks, Alta., that was part of a massive recall from its meat processing plant that experienced an outbreak of E. coli in late August and early September.
The company took about 500 to 600 tonnes of frozen beef to the industrial part of the Newell County landfill over the weekend, all under the supervision of Canadian Food Inspection Agency officials.
The company is expected to dump more recalled meat on Monday.
The beef product in the boxes is mostly frozen ground beef and trimmings such as heart and tripe, but so far no high-quality cuts.
Ray Juska, landfill manager at Newell County, says his crews are putting dirt onto the meat.
"It’s to keep out vectors, primarily seagulls is what we have here, and it’s also a requirement of the CFIA so nobody can go back and help themselves to some off-spec meat," Juska said.
He's also hoping that his contribution will help the company and its workers get back to work.
"We're a waste-disposal facility associated with Brooks and area and really what the big issue here, aside from what's happening to Brooks and to XL, is what's happening to the people that it's affected," Juska said.
"And it's had a pretty substantial impact and now that a lot workers are laid off and the longer it goes on the greater it's going to be. So, we're really hoping by accepting this material that we're part of the solution."
The CFIA confirmed last week that XL Foods would destroy all of the beef involved in a massive E. coli recall in Canada and the United States.
"Recalled product — it is all being disposed of in landfill," said CFIA spokesperson Tim O'Connor in an email. "No affected product will be on the market."
The agency also said that up to 5.5 million kilograms of meat stored at the Brooks plant and in cold storage at warehouses that wasn't part of the recall would either be landfilled, rendered — a high-temperature disposal method where animal fat is separated from the solids and made into fat or oil — or cooked at a high temperature to kill any E. coli so it can be introduced back into the food system.
The company still has to provide CFIA with its plan for that excess product, so O'Connor said it would be speculative at this point to say what will happen to it.
It's also not clear how much beef XL Foods will have to clear from the plant in order to have the CFIA reinstate its licence following the recent E. coli outbreak and massive recall of 1,800 products.