At least one specialty mart in Red Deer is experiencing a jump in customers due to Canada-wide beef recalls.
Ivan Smith, owner of two Big Bend Market stores, said on Monday that the beef recall of a number of XL Foods products is increasing sales at his tills.
“We’re actually having to grind fresh (meat) three times a day right now,” said Smith. “(The recall is) so huge it affects everybody.”
A Canada-wide beef recall of made-in-Alberta beef expanded again on the weekend.
Some meat produced at XL Foods in Brooks was found last month to be contaminated with E. coli bacteria.
The first recall was issued by XL Foods on Sept. 16. That has since been followed by nine additional recalls. Eight people are known to be sick because of the E. coli bacteria.
To date, almost 300 products have been affected.
Smith said it’s unfortunate for the agricultural industry. As a cattle producer, he’s noticed that cattle prices have dropped.
He’s glad, though, that there’s a solid tracking system in place to see these products recalled.
“I’ve actually seen quite a few new customers,” added Smith.
He said all his beef is hormone-and-antibiotic-free and comes from local farmers.
“We have a totally different protocol from all the grocery stores,” he added. “That’s why we’ve seen such tremendous growth in our business over the last five years. People want to know exactly where their beef comes from.”
Meanwhile, grocery stores are handling the recalls as efficiently as possible.
Caralee Strome, general manager of the Co-op store in Rimbey, said that Co-op stores pulled fresh beef from their stores on Friday.
The original recall affected XL beef produced from Aug. 24, 27, 28, 29 and Sept. 5.
“But we made the proactive choice to pull all fresh beef products,” said Strome. “We did this on Friday, but we have reacted to all the other recalls and pulled all the products accordingly.”
Strome said that customers have been following the news, so they are aware of what’s happening.
“We have beef coming in that’s not being affected,” said Strome. “We had beef back on the shelves on Saturday.”
Anyone who has bought fresh beef between Sept. 3 and 28 is asked to bring their product back to the Rimbey store.
Larry Parks, general manager of Red Deer Co-op, said only two or three customers have returned products that they were concerned about.
“We heard some comments Friday morning because we actually removed all of our fresh beef from the counter,” said Parks. “Just as a precautionary measure, we sanitized our counter and our total cutting room.”
The stores then began cutting fresh product and putting it on the shelves.
“We were only shut down for a couple of hours and it wasn’t because we had contaminated meat,” he said.
Parks said they occasionally buy XL Foods beef, but their primary supplier is Cargill.
“We didn’t have any of the product that was recalled in our stores anyways,” said Parks. “It was totally precautionary.”
Parks said they have no plans to sell organic or local beef.