CALGARY - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says there was a delay getting information on tainted meat from an Alberta packing plant at the centre of an extensive beef recall.
Speaking at a news conference in Calgary, agency president George Da Pont said Canadian inspectors asked for information from XL Foods on Sept. 6, but didn't get it right away.
That was two days after E. coli was found by U.S. inspectors in a shipment of beef heading south of the border.
Da Pont said Canadian inspectors made the same discovery within hours and traced the meat to XL.
He added all the beef from the U.S. shipment never made it to the retail level, so it was decided not to pull back any other beef already in stores.
A recall of ground beef was eventually issued Sept. 16 and has been expanded numerous times to include other beef products.
Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, who toured the XL plant in Brooks, Alta., earlier in the day, said the government's "highest priority" is to keep the food Canadians eat safe.
The news conference was abruptly ended by Ritz's assistant when Da Pont started speaking about the delay.