E. Coli Outbreak Reaches 8 Confirmed Cases

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

Updated: 27 February 2013

Why you should take note

Since our last update, an additional case of E. coli O157:H7 illness in Saskatchewan has been confirmed as part of this outbreak investigation. This brings the total number of cases to eight: four in Ontario, two in Alberta, one in Manitoba and one in Saskatchewan. These individuals became ill between late December and mid-February. All cases have recovered or are recovering.

The most recent case is linked to recalled Gourmet Meat Shoppe Big and Juicy frozen beef burgers.

The risk to Canadians remains low because all products found to be contaminated were recalled from store shelves. It remains important that Canadians not eat any of the recalled beef products. Check your freezer and if you have recalled products in your home, return them to the store or throw them out.

Products contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 can pose a serious public health risk. We want to remind Canadians to take precautions to avoid food-borne illness, for example:

  • Cook meat to a safe internal temperature—use a food thermometer to be sure;
    • Thick burgers like the ones recalled need to be cooked longer than regular sized ones to be sure they’re safe.
  • Wash your hands before and after cooking;
  • Keep knives, counters and cutting boards clean;
  • Keep raw meats separate from other foods when you store them; and
  • Refrigerate or freeze left-overs promptly.

The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to lead the coordination of the investigation into this outbreak in close collaboration with its health and food safety partners.

Additional cases of illness may be identified and linked to this outbreak in the future.

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 cases
  Alberta 2
  Ontario 4
  Manitoba 1
  Saskatchewan 1
  Total 8

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 recalledand how that aspect of the investigation has unfolded, is available on the CFIA website.

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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