Food Safety Concerns and Local Solutions

tainted beef, food safety, Kingston, OntarioThe food safety scandal involving the Canadian behemoth, XL Foods, began just over one month ago when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and U.S. Department of Agriculture first identified numerous contaminated ground beef products.  Since the initial recall, XL Foods has gone on to pull a total of 250 products off of grocery store shelves, while over a dozen Canadians are recovering from consuming meat contaminated with E. coli bacteria. There are many theories and probable explanations as to just how this latest food safety disaster transpired. Union officials at XL Foods have stated that efficiency and speed were valued more so than sanitation and cleanliness at the Alberta-based meat processing plant.  The shear size and reach of XL Foods’ operations is also coming into focus, as the company is reportedly responsible for a staggering one third of all the red meat that’s sold in Canada.  And let’s not forget all the heat and light that is being placed on the inadequate number of food inspectors.  History is repeating itself, it would seem, while this latest chapter got us thinking:
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During our recent excursions to the grocery store, we’ve kept the cart rolling right on past the meat coolers, although admittedly red meat rarely appears on our monthly grocery bill nowadays.  In fact, the only times we’ve purchased beef over the past few years has been when we were grilling fresh steaks on the barbeque, or making meatballs for mama’s special spaghetti sauce.  In either case, our beef is bought directly from local butchers rather than from some grocery store chain.  We justify the additional expense knowing that we’re supporting local farmers, but we also take comfort in the fact that our food was prepared and inspected locally.  Judging by anecdotal comments overheard at the meat counter at John’s and Old Farm Fine Foods lately, we’re not alone, as more and more Kingstonians are turning to locally sourced meat products.

Will the trend towards preferring local beef continue to increase in the Limestone City, or is this simply a blip that will soon be forgotten until the next big food safety scare? Have your purchasing or eating habits changed as a result of this or any other recall? Drop off your comments below.

Thanks to Sindead Stout for today’s photo.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

2 thoughts on “Food Safety Concerns and Local Solutions

  • I just stopped eating beef entirely for a little while. It doesn't bother me too much as I eat a lot of vegetarian meals anyway, and beef is becoming ridiculously expensive.

    Now to wait for the next spinach recall.

  • Haven't eaten any meat in many years so no change for me me. Granted people have gotten sick or died from contaminated fruits and vegetables too. Not sure stats or expert opinion support that smaller/local is safer

    A "food safety" incident gets a lot of attention but the reality is the numbers in Canada affected are tiny compared to something like injuries and deaths from car accidents. No one changes their lifestyle when a car accident happens so i certainly wouldn't give any thought to the very low rate of food safety problems. Especially when its unlikely you can do anything to improve your odds of avoiding one..

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