Court OKs deal to settle class-action lawsuit filed after tainted beef recall

EDMONTON – An Alberta court has approved a $4-million settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed after an E. coli outbreak that sparked the largest meat recall in Canadian history.

The lawsuit was against XL Foods Inc., which operated a meat-packing plant in southern Alberta during the tainted beef recall in the fall of 2012.

Lawyer Clint Docken said hundreds of people in Canada and the United States could apply for a share of the award by the Aug. 17 deadline.

“Now it is all settled and there is the consumer component and the injury component,” he said Wednesday.

“People who threw out the product can apply to get their money back and people who ate the product and got sick can apply for compensation for their injury.”

Under the agreement, which refers to possible E. coli contamination, XL Foods does not accept any wrongdoing or liability.

Company officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

During the outbreak, health officials confirmed that 18 people in Canada tested positive for a specific strain of E. coli bacteria linked to meat from the company’s plant in Brooks, Alta.

XL Foods recalled more than 1.8 million kilograms of beef in Canada and the United States.

The plant in Brooks was later sold to JBS Canada.

Under the distribution rules of the settlement, provincial health insurers can file claims to recover health-care costs.

Lawyers involved in the lawsuit said the class action highlights the importance of food safety and holding companies accountable.

“Food safety is of significant concern. Every week it seems there is a recall,” Docken said.

“We are hoping in the light of this particular case that there will be more awareness out there on the part of food producers.”