Cattle industry hurt over E. coli recalls, Saskatchewan says

Saskatchewan's Agriculture Minister says he is not happy with how a meat recall has been handled, noting the cattle industry in the province will suffer.

Producers will 'pay the price' over meat recall, Saskatchewan minister says

Saskatchewan's minister of agriculture talks about the meat recall affecting the beef industry. 1:33

Lyle Stewart, Saskatchewan's Agriculture Minister, says he is not happy with how a meat recall has been handled, noting the cattle industry in the province will suffer.

"My primary concern is with the way CFIA and XL have conducted their business," Stewart said, talking about how the Canadian Food Inspection Agency dealt with issues of E. coli contamination at an XL Foods processing facility in Alberta. "I'm afraid that our producers are going to pay the price for it."

According to Stewart, the Saskatchewan cattle industry is already facing lower prices for animals.

"This is already affecting cattle markets to some extent," he said. "And it's raising fears among the public that are to some extent justified."

Stewart said consumers should have confidence in the food processing system and the recent recalls are not helping that.

"Beef is and has been a healthy product and it will continue to be," he said. "It's unfortunate this incident hasn't been handled as well as it should have been."

Stewart said he is especially concerned about the length of time that passed between the detection of E. coli and a decision to shut down the Alberta plant.

"It seems there was an undue amount of time expired between the time when CFI knew there was an issue and that plant was closed and I think we can expect better," he said.

Stewart said he is writing a letter to his federal counterpart, Gerry Ritz, to outline his concerns.

The Canadian Beef Herd, as of January 2012. (Source: Canada Beef)