Inspectors have shut down Edmonton's lone remaining federally-licensed meat packing plant until further notice.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Friday it suspended the federal operating license for Capital Packers (Establishment 231) effective Thursday afternoon, and is also warning the public not to consume ham sausages made at the company's Edmonton facility, citing possible listeriosis risk.
According to the agency, which has put all products stored at the plant under CFIA detention, "adequate controls for food safety are not being reliably implemented in the facility on a consistent basis."
Furthermore, CFIA said, Capital Packers has "failed to correct deficiencies previously identified" through its inspections.
The Capital plant won't be able to resume operating until the company has "fully implemented the necessary corrective actions" and the agency is "fully confident in the plant's capacity to effectively manage food safety risks."
Capital Packers, in a separate statement, said the suspension letter it received late Thursday afternoon cited an "ineffective recall program."
Capital has a voluntary recall of some of its ham sausage products now underway but said the recall is "not directly related to the suspension."
However, the company added, "we are voluntarily recalling this product because there was found to be a positive for listeria on (a uniform) sleeve (on an employee) working on a packaging equipment line. So we felt it was important to recall this product to ensure food safety in the marketplace."
CFIA said Friday it's investigating to see if products shipped from the plant pose "potential risks to consumers, particularly related to Listeria monocytogenes contamination." If "unsafe food" is found to be in the marketplace, the agency said it would issue an immediate alert.
Capital's voluntary recall covers ham sausages sold in 300-gram packages under its own Capital brand, and in 375-gram packages under the Sobeys grocery store chain's house brand, Compliments. Both products are stamped with date codes of Dec. 26 (2012 DE 26).
The products in question "may have been distributed nationally," CFIA said. Capital, on its website, said its markets cover Western Canada and the Northwest Territories.
There have been no reported illnesses yet linked with the products under recall, CFIA said.
Six additonal product lines "may be implicated," CFIA said in a later statement Friday, noting the agency and company are now running additional sampling on those product lines.
Privately-held Capital Packers is a third-generation family-owned company, employing about 100 people and distributing products to grocers including Sobeys as well as Safeway, Loblaw's Superstore, Extra Foods, No Frills, Wholesale Club and Super A.
The company began as an abattoir in 1929 and became a federally-licensed meat processor in the 1960s. The company now makes 153 varieties of fresh meats, 13 varieties of cooked meats, 151 varieties of smoked meats and nine varieties of pickled meats, with product lines including bacon, sausage coils, pork and turkey sausage rings, and smokies.
Capital, the company says on its site, "is the only remaining meat processor in Edmonton at this time, which is an indicator that this company has met the changing needs of the customer over the years."
Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria may not look or smell spoiled, but can cause listeriosis if consumed.
Symptoms of listeriosis can include high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. Pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. Listeriosis infections in pregnant women can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth, CFIA said.