Butcher’s Choice Outbreak Investigation Concludes

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Public Health Agency of Canada

Public Health Notice: E. coli O157:H7 illness related to frozen beef burgers

Updated: 25 January 2013

Why you should take note

The investigation into the E. coli O157:H7 illnesses associated with frozen beef burgers has been concluded.

The risk to Canadians remains low because all products found to be contaminated were recalled from store shelves last month.

In total, 5 cases were confirmed to be part of this outbreak; 3 in Ontario and 2 in Alberta.

The investigation confirmed the source of this outbreak to be Butcher’s Choice Garlic Peppercorn frozen beef burgers. It remains important that Canadians not eat any of the recalled beef productsExternal Link. Check your freezer and if you have recalled products in your home, return them to the store, or throw them out.

The Public Health Agency of Canada, in collaboration with provincial/territorial partners, will continue to monitor for and investigate any new cases of E. coli that may be related to this outbreak as part of its routine surveillance activities.

Status

Investigations into outbreaks of food-borne illness can be complex. Since early December 2012, the Agency has been leading a committee that includes public health and food safety experts from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Health Canada and Provincial and Territorial Health Authorities. The committee meets regularly to share and review the latest information and determine what actions should be taken to protect Canadians.

Based on all the information collected to date – epidemiological, microbiological and food safety – the following cases of illness are linked to the specific strain of E. coli O157 found in the recalled frozen beef burgers. More information about the epidemiological investigation is also available.

Province / Territory Total confirmed cases
  Alberta 2
  Ontario 3
  Total 5

Over the course of the investigation, an additional reported case of E. coli O157:H7 illness was found to have the same strain of E. coli as one found in a recalled product. However, the case could not be definitively linked to the outbreak associated with this investigation because there was not enough food history information available to connect the individual with the contaminated product. This individual died in early December as a result of the illness.

More information about products that have been recalledExternal Linkand how that aspect of the investigation has unfolded, is available on the CFIA websiteExternal Link.

E. coli O157 food-borne illnesses are not uncommon in Canada and no unusual increases in the number of these illnesses have been detected nationally.

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