Jordan Parker recently looked into the beef recall at the Sobeys on Bedford Highway:
Sobeys leaves beef recall a mystery
Equipment malfunction at Bedford Highway store remains unclear
More than a week after the Bedford Highway Sobeys recalled ground beef products, company officials still aren’t saying how the contamination occurred.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recalled all the ground beef processed at the location on Halloween day.
“We don’t know the exact details,” said Garfield Balsom, a food recall specialist with the agency. “All we know is there was a malfunction in their processing equipment.
“The Sobeys informed us. They observed there was an issue while they were doing clean-up,” said Balsom. “They said some equipment had malfunctioned, and there was a possibility of metal getting into the grinder … No one is expecting that kind of material in their product. It could cause serious physical injury.”
The CFIA, with Sobeys’ cooperation, recalled all the affected product and issued warnings on its website and to area news media.
The agency requires companies to advise them as to “what actions are taken,” and if the problem is fixed when they go back to normal operation.
At noon on Nov. 7, Balsom was unsure whether the grinder had been fixed or replaced.
The Bedford Sobeys is now back in the business of selling beef. Sobeys head office, however, was unclear on what actions had been taken to fix the problem.
“There was a conversation and detailed discussion with the manufacturer,” said Cynthia Thompson, Communications and Corporate Affairs manager for Stellarton’s Sobeys Atlantic Inc. office. “What the replacement and repairs were, I’m not sure.
“We began an inspection, and there was no metal found. It has to pass through a grinding plate with small openings to get into product,” Thompson said.
“We worked with the CFIA, and exercised an abundance of caution. We recalled all ground beef products that passed through.”
Sobeys wouldn’t disclose how much beef was recalled, or how much profit was lost.
Management at the Bedford Highway location refused to speak on the record.
“This is an extremely rare occurrence,” Thompson at Sobeys head office said. “I can’t recall another time this has happened.”
While Sobeys assures customers it was an isolated incident, Benedetta Varoli, who runs the news-gathering website The Bedford Beacon, is wary of returning to the Bedford Highway location.
“It’s a mistake that can happen at any store, but you do hesitate after hearing things.”