Brazilian meat-packing giant JBS will manage and possibly buy Canada's embattled XL Foods Inc., a top executive for the South American company said Wednesday.
The Calgary Herald reported a deal had been struck for JBS to run XL Foods feedlots and processing plants, including the Brooks, Alberta, beef-processing facility shut down when it was linked to an E. coli outbreak.
"We know full well the commitment it takes to manage world-class operations that produce safe and nutritious products," Bill Rupp, president of JBS' U.S. division, said in a release.
"We believe our experienced team will provide an invaluable asset in the management of XL Lakeside and we look forward to exploring our options to purchase XL assets in the near future."
The Herald said JBS negotiated an exclusive option to buy XL's facilities in Brooks, Calgary; Omaha; and Nampa, Idaho, for a $100 million cash-and-share deal.
"Under no scenario will JBS assume any of XL Foods' debt or liabilities," the $30 billion-a-year company said in the release.
The Herald said officials with Nilsson Bros Inc., XL's parent company, had not been reached for comment.
The emergence of JBS as a player in XL's future came the same day the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced Canada's largest recall of beef expanded by 11 more products at the Alberta processor.
The recall involved beef stew, kidneys, liver, heart, tongue, oxtail and outside round roast, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
The source of concern is over E. coli bacterial contamination, which forced the plant to close Sept. 27 and has affected more than 1,500 products.
At least 12 people across Canada became sick after eating from meat from the plant. The United States and Hong Kong have also turned back meat products from XL, the CBC said.
The company issued layoff notices to about 2,000 employees Sunday, but the next day, 800 workers were called back to process some 5,000 beef carcasses in cold storage.
The work was under close monitoring by federal inspectors and was completed Wednesday, meaning the 800 workers are once again laid off, Calgary's 660 News radio said.