SUMMERSIDE — A nation-wide recall of beef products from an Alberta processing plant has been a boost for a Summerside butcher.
Kevin Wile owns Summerside Butcher Shop where he sells only Island beef from Atlantic Beef Products in Albany.
Over the past two days his phone has been ringing off the hook with Islanders concerned over the recall and looking to purchase locally grown and produced beef.
“We’re swamped,” said Wile early Friday afternoon. “We are getting a lot of phone calls. I am sure it is going to turn people off beef but our beef is all from the beef plant in Borden so it’s not affected. It’s scary. People are really paying more attention to what they are eating and what they are buying.
“I think it is going to be good for us.”
The recall of beef products from XL Foods Inc. is the largest food recall in Canadian history.
In the past two days alone dozens of products have been added to the growing list, which is available on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s website.
The meat being recalled could be contaminated with a bacterial strain of E. Coli and started with ground beef. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has since made several additions to the growing list, which now includes more than 1,500 products.
Some of the products were sold in stores across on Prince Edward Island.
Consumers are being asked to get rid of any of the beef products on the agency’s list since, noted the agency, E. Coli can cause serious even life-threatening illness.
Wile had one woman call his store Friday who threw out all the meat in her freezer and was coming to his Summerside location to purchase $300 worth of meat.
“All day that’s all we are taking is phone calls asking ‘is your beef OK’.”
Since he opened the business, first on Water Street and then earlier this year to a larger facility on Central Street, Wile has carried only beef from the Atlantic Beef Products facility.
“We have some of the best beef around. You talk to any of the top chefs like Mark McEwen or Michael Smith, they all rave about the beef that is produced here on P.E.I.,” he added. “That’s why we carry it. It’s good quality stuff.”
Wile does have a loyal and steady clientele but admitted to seeing new faces in his business over the past few days.
During a stop into the shop mid-afternoon there was a steady stream of people going through the doors, many asking about origin of the beef in the display case.
“We’re so busy as it is right now and we don’t have a lot of staff. If we start advertising too much we will just turn people away,” he added. “We’re letting people know that it is local beef. It sure opens your eyes.”
It was so busy Friday Wile had to get more beef trucked in from the Albany plant.
“That plant (XL Foods) produced a third of North America’s beef and they are saying now that plant may not even open again. What’s that going to do? Drive prices up, that’s all it is going to do,” he added. “This past week we would have bought a lot of beef, close to $40,000 worth of beef alone from the beef plant. I had to send my truck out today to get two pallets of beef to get us through until Tuesday.”
Wile said while there are many who only buy local beef others based their decision on where to buy beef on price.
“Everybody is on a budget. When the grocery stores advertise cheap stuff people are tempted to buy it,” he added. “People do like to know where it is coming from. They are watching. There are more and more people switching over.”