Lesions, lameness and diarrhea were the signs that led to the immediate closure of Olymel’s pig plant in Red Deer, Canada early last week, says a spokesman for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
The plant and adjoining loading facility, operated by Western Hog Exchange, were evacuated and scrubbed down early June 21 after inspectors noticed the suspicious signs among a group of hogs shipped from a farm in Saskatchewan.
CFIA spokeswoman Lisa Gauthier said from her office in Ottawa that the signs were consistent with foot and mouth disease (FMD). FMD was ruled out in tests performed at a provincial lab in Edmonton and at the CFIA’s lab in Winnipeg.
While the disease was ruled out and the plant reopened on last Wednesday, there was a tremendous impact on the plant itself as well as the people, farms and businesses associated with it. Workers, including 1,300 people directly employed in the plant, were sent home after their boots and vehicles had been disinfected.
Those costs are being tallied and industry leaders will analyze the closure to determine whether any changes are needed, said producer representative Jim Haggins, chairman of Alberta Pork.