Food safety regulator cancels licences of 3 companies in massive meat recall

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has cancelled the licenses of three companies tied to a massive meat recall that ensnared nearly 900 beef and veal products, stopping the companies from slaughtering animals or preparing meat products "effective immediately."

The agency cancelled the Safe Food for Canadian licenses of Ryding-Regency Meat Packers Ltd, as well as two others operating under St. Ann's Foods Inc.: Canadian Select Meats Inc. and The Beef Boutique Ltd., it said in a statement Monday. All the entities are based in Toronto.

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The companies are no longer allowed to slaughter animals or prepare meat products, including for export and send to other provinces or territories.

"The decision was made after the agency identified during a food safety investigation that they had received false or misleading information from the licence holders concerning E. coli lab results," said the CFIA.

A spokesman for Ryding-Regency did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while the publicly listed number for St. Ann's was not in service.

The CFIA launched its food safety investigation in September after it determined some products could be contaminated with E. coli.

The list of recalled beef and veal products grew to 892 consumer products by Nov. 6 and included goods sold at a number of grocers, as well as hotels, restaurants and other retailers.

There were no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products, according to the CFIA's latest update on the recall on Nov. 6. E. coli symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Seizures or strokes can occur in severe cases, and people may require blood transfusions or kidney dialysis, or live with permanent kidney damage. Severe cases can be fatal.

While the CFIA conducted its investigation, it suspended the companies' licenses. The agency informed each company on Oct. 22 that it intended to cancel their licenses and provided them an opportunity to be heard.

In each case, "after meeting with the licence holder regarding the cancellation, based on a review of the facts and submissions made, the CFIA determined that the licence holder failed to comply with Section 15 and cancelled their licence," the CFIA said.

Section 15 of the Safe Food for Canadians Act prohibits making a false or misleading statement or providing false or misleading information to a person exercising duties under the law or in connection with it.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2019.

Follow @AleksSagan on Twitter.

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