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New XL Foods management to meet with staff, union about closed beef plant

FILE PHOTO: Security personnel patrol the XL Foods cattle processing plant in Brooks, Alta., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012.

Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

The company taking over management of an Alberta meat packer at the centre of a beef recall and E. coli scare is meeting with the people who work at the plant.

JBS USA officials are to meet with XL Foods Inc. employees today in groups of 100 to talk about the company's plans for the plant, which has been closed since Sept. 27.

Doug O'Halloran of the United Food and Commercial Workers said union officials were to meet Tuesday with industrial relations staff from JBS USA.

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Reaching out to the workforce and union is a positive sign for the future of Canada's second-largest beef operation, he suggested.

"It's certainly a step in the right direction because we've had no communication with XL, so the fact that JBS has reached out and wants to have a discussion I think bodes well," Mr. O'Halloran said.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has said test samples from meat processed at the plant last week as part of an inspection came back free of E. coli.

The food agency is finishing a review of hygiene, meat-handling and sanitation procedures, but no date has been set for the plant's reopening.

"We certainly have some questions going forward about what their (JBS) plans are ... and right now we're sort of in limbo, not really knowing what to expect ... so we're quite interested in having a meeting and seeing what they have to say," Mr. O'Halloran said.

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