A Pitt Meadows meat processing plant is now facing charges for covering up a positive test for E. Coli found in one of its products two years ago.
The charges under Canada’s Food and Drug Act follow a lengthy investigation by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which was tipped off by a former employee of the company that a batch of beef had tested positive for the deadly bacteria in September 2010, and was not reported.
Under Canadian law, a positive test must be reported to CFIA immediately.
The halal meat packing plant on Ford Road and its subsidiaries, Fraser Valley Meat Supplies and Meadows Valley Meat, are each facing 11 counts of selling an article of food unfit for human consumption.
Penalties for violations to the act can range from fines to jail time for those involved.
After verifying the employee’s claims, the CFIA conducted a voluntary recall of products processed at the plant.
According to the CFIA, the plant destroyed some of the meat prior to the recall, while the majority was sold to pet food manufacturers.
Only a “few kilograms” of the tainted meat were sold in stores for human consumption.
Pitt Meadows Meats has always maintained the whistle-blower who tipped off the CFIA was a disgruntled employee.
When the allegations first surfaced in 2011, the plant’s business manager, Brian Bilkes, said the positive test results were not reported because the plant manager suspected the employee who conducted the positive test – the one who eventually informed CFIA – had possibly sabotaged the test and used unhygienic practices that tainted the results.
“There were definitely issues between him and management,” Bilkes said at the time.
Pitt Meadows Meats appeared in court to face the charges on Tuesday. The company is set to return to court in February.