Gorts Gouda Cheese Outbreak Continues to Grow

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Additional E. Coli O157:H7 Illness from Gort’s Gouda Cheese Surfaces

BY NEWS DESK | NOVEMBER 15, 2013

One additional E. coli illness that occurred in September has been linked to Gort’s Gouda Cheese, a manufacturer of raw cheese in British Columbia, Canadaa.

In total, 28 cases have now been reported in connection with the outbreak. One elderly woman from Vernon, B.C., died in August as a result of her infection after eating the cheese.

The outbreak appears to be over, given that no new cases have developed since September. Provincial health authorities have also considered the epidemiological investigation over.

The total number ill by province is as follows:

Alberta (10 illnesses), British Columbia (13), Manitoba (2), Quebec (1), and Saskatchewan (2).

After authorities suspended production at the dairy, Gort’s agreed to adapt some of its operations and was cleared to restart production on Oct. 18.

© Food Safety News

HACCPCanada advocates and mandates HACCP System Certification; with an emphasis on providing Food Safety Confidence to the Consumer. We are a Certifying Body (an independent & impartial national organization which evaluates and verifies HACCP systems) and have succeeded in furnishing an economical, effective and expedient Certification Process for the Retail Food Supply Chain including Non-Registered Manufacturing, Warehousing, Logistics, Restaurants and Retail Food Outlets.

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Gort’s Gouda Cheese E. coli Outbreak Leaves One Dead, Triggers Recall

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Health Hazard Alert – Certain Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm brand raw milk cheeses may contain E. coli O157:H7 bacteria

Recall / advisory date:
September 17, 2013
Reason for recall / advisory:
Microbiological – E. coli O157:H7
Hazard classification:
Class 1
Company / Firm:
Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm (EST 4478)
Distribution:
Alberta, British Columbia
Extent of the distribution:
Retail
 

Advisory details

Ottawa, September 17, 2013 – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm (EST 4478) are warning the public not to consume cheese products described below because they may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

This recall is the result of an ongoing food safety investigation initiated as a result of a recent outbreak investigation. There may be recalls of additional products as the investigation at this facility continues.

All sizes of the raw milk cheeses listed below are affected by this recall.

These affected products were sold at the manufacturer’s outlet, at retail stores in Alberta and British Columbia, and through internet sale from May 27 to September 14, 2013, inclusive.

Lot codes 122 to 138 are affected by this recall.

Some product packages may not bear a lot code or indicate that the cheese was made with raw milk. These products were also sold clerk-served from deli counters with or without a label or coding. Consumers who are unsure if they have purchased the affected product are advised to contact their retailer.

There have been reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products. (See CBC News Article below).

The manufacturer, Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm, Salmon Arm, BC is voluntarily recalling the affected products from the marketplace. The CFIA is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall.

Affected products

Brand Name Common Name
Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm Medium Gouda Cheese Quaso de Prato
Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm Aged Quaso de Prato
Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm X Aged Quaso de Prato
Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm Cumin Quaso de Prato
Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm Greek Blend: Onion, Paprika, Parsley, Pepper, Thyme, Oregano Quaso de Prato
Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm Gouda Cheese with Jalapeno Peppers Quaso de Prato
Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm Smoked Gouda Cheese Quaso de Prato
Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm Gouda Cheese with Red Peppers, Ginger Onions & Garlic Quaso de Prato
Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm Peppercorn, Ginger, Paprika, Onion & Garlic Quaso de Prato
Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm Parsley, Celery, Onion, Garlic, Dill & Chives Quaso de Prato
Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm Maasdammer
Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm Beaufort
Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm Parmesan
Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm Mazouda

Food contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 may not look or smell spoiled. Consumption of food contaminated with these bacteria my cause serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain and bloody diarrhoea. Some people may have seizures or strokes and some may need blood transfusions and kidney dialysis. Others may live with permanent kidney damage. In severe cases of illness, people may die.

Aged Quaso de Prato
Greek Blend: Onion, Paprika, Parsley, Pepper, Thyme, Oregano
Maasdammer
Beaufort
Mazouda
Medium Gouda Cheese Quaso de Prato
Cumin Quaso de Prato
Gouda Cheese with Jalapeno Peppers Quaso de Prato
Smoked Gouda Cheese Quaso de Prato
Gouda Cheese with Red Peppers, Ginger Onions & Garlic Quaso de Prato
Peppercorn, Ginger, Paprika, Onion & Garlic Quaso de Prato
Parsley, Celery, Onion, Garlic, Dill & Chives Quaso de Prato
 

E. coli cheese outbreak in B.C., Alberta leaves 1 dead, 10 ill

Gort’s Cheese of Salmon Arm, B.C., suspected in outbreak

CBC News

1 dead after E. coli outbreak

One person has died and 10 have become ill in B.C. and Alberta after eating E. coli tainted products from Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm of Salmon Arm, B.C.

A statement from Health Canada said there were four cases of illness in B.C. and seven in Alberta.

“One of the cases in British Columbia has died, and the cause of death is currently under investigation,” said the Health Canada statement.

One person is still recovering in hospital and several cases remain under investigation, said B.C. Centre for Disease Control epidemiologist Dr. Eleni Galanis.

The illnesses began in July, with the majority of infected people displaying symptoms in late August to early September.

Some product packages may not bear a lot code or indicate that the cheese was made with raw milk, and CFIA advises consumers who are unsure if they have purchased the affected product to contact their retailer.

Farm owner and operator Kathy Wikkerink said she was devastated by the news.

“We feel like we … we have hurt these people and it’s totally unintentionally … we were totally unaware of this bacteria being in any of our products,” she said.

“We only have raw milk cheese sales … people come here for raw milk cheese,” adding the farm will only make pasteurized cheese for the time being.

“Our shelves are bare and we just are trying to hold it together and stay alive,” she said.

It is illegal to sell unpasteurized milk, but cheese made from unpasteurized milk is legal for sale in Canada.

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White Veal Meat Packers (Est. 412) Recalls Veal Liver

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Health Hazard Alert – Certain veal liver sold in Quebec may contain E. coli O157:H7 bacteria

Recall / advisory date:
August 9, 2013
Reason for recall / advisory:
Microbiological – E. coli O157:H7
Hazard classification:
Class 1
Company / Firm:
White Veal Meat Packers (Est. 412)
Distribution:
Quebec
Extent of the distribution:
Retail
Reference number:
8236

Advisory details

Ottawa, August 9, 2013 – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and White Veal Meat Packers Ltd. (EST 412) are warning the public not to consume Veal Liver described below because they may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

The affected product, Veal Liver, was sold from the following retail stores in Quebec from July 31, 2013 to August 9, 2013, inclusive.

Consumers who are unsure if they have purchased the affected product are advised to contact their retailer.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

White Veal Meat Packers Ltd., (EST 412), Toronto, ON is voluntarily recalling the affected product from the marketplace. The CFIAis monitoring the effectiveness of the recall.

Affected products

Brand Name Common Name Size Additional Info
Veal Liver Variable weight Sold from:
Boucherie Al Khair Inc., 428 av. Lafleur, Lasalle
Boucherie Al Khair Inc., 1550 boul. Daniel Johnson, Laval
Boucherie Al Khair Inc., 300 rue Jean-Talon E, Montréal
Les Caprices d’Al-Adhba Inc., 2235 rue Saint-Rémi, Laval

More information

Food contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 may not look or smell spoiled. Consumption of food contaminated with these bacteria my cause serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain and bloody diarrhoea. Some people may have seizures or strokes and some may need blood transfusions and kidney dialysis. Others may live with permanent kidney damage. In severe cases of illness, people may die.

HACCPCanada advocates and mandates HACCP System Certification; with an emphasis on providing Food Safety Confidence to the Consumer. We are a Certifying Body (an independent & impartial national organization which evaluates and verifies HACCP systems) and have succeeded in furnishing an economical, effective and expedient Certification Process for the Retail Food Supply Chain including Non-Registered Manufacturing, Warehousing, Logistics, Restaurants and Retail Food Outlets.

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Canadian Family to Sue Tanimura & Antle for Romaine Lettuce E. coli Death

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POSTED BY BILL MARLER ON APRIL 29, 2013
In August 2012, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) isolated E. coli O157:H7 in a sample of Tanimura & Antle romaine lettuce collected on August 8, 2012.  This finding prompted CFIA to issue a “Health Hazard Alert” notice on August 17, 2012 warning the public to not consume Tanimura & Antle brand romaine lettuce, UPC 0 27918 20314 9.[1]  The alert was expanded to include additional distribution information on August 20, 2012.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA) posted a notice that on August 19 Tanimura & Antle was recalling “Wrapped Single Head Romaine.”[2]  Genetic testing by Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) identified the strain of E. coli O157 found in the Tanimura & Antle sample as “ECXA1.1775/ECBN1.0012.”  See PFGE, Attachment No. 1. This was a rare strain, not seen in Canada since 2009.  The CFIA announcement noted that there had been “no reported illnesses associated with consumption of this product.”  Unfortunately, this assessment would prove to be tragically incorrect.  Two Canadians—a person in Ontario and a person in Alberta were identified as being infected with strain ECXA1.1775/ECBN1.0012.  Gail Bernacki was the Alberta resident identified as being a genetic match to the E. coli O157 strain found in Tanimura & Antle romaine lettuce.

On August 23, 2012, Mrs. Bernacki experienced onset of vomiting and diarrhea.  Her stool specimen collected at Rockyview General Hospital on August 26 was culture positive for E. coliO157:H7.  She eventually died on January 16th, 2013, leaving her husband, three children and a large, loving family.

Genetic testing by Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) showed that Gail Bernacki was infected with E. coli O157:H7 strain ECXA1.1775/ECBN1.0012.  See Bernacki Completed NDR Interview Form, Alberta Health Services, Attachment No. 2.  CFIA analyzed a “partial head of Tanimura and Antle Romaine Lettuce UPC 0 27918 20314 9” from the Bernacki home on September 2012.  E. coli O157:H7 was not isolated in the uneaten portion of the lettuce but it is clear that the contaminated product was in the Bernacki home and that a portion had been consumed.  See CFIA Report of Analysis, Food Products Sampling Submission, Attachment No. 3.

Noted foodborne illness epidemiologist, Dr. John Kobayashi, reviewed the facts of the outbreak and Mrs. Bernacki’s E. coli O157:H7 infection.  Dr. Kobayashi opined on a more probable than not basis that Gail Bernacki was ill with an E. coli O157:H7 infection and that the source of her infection was Tanimura and Antle Romaine, which was contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. See Expert Report of John Kobayashi, MD, Attachment No. 4.

Suit will be filed in Federal Court in California.  Download complaint.


[2]           See http://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls/ucm316256.htm.

 

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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.

 

 

E. coli In Frozen Burger Patties Now At 7 Confirmed Cases

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

Public Health Agency of Canada

Updated: 22 February 2013

Why you should take note

Through ongoing monitoring and surveillance activities, two additional cases of E. coli O157:H7 illness have been confirmed as part of this outbreak investigation; one in Manitoba and one in Ontario. This brings the total number of cases to seven: four in Ontario, two in Alberta and one in Manitoba. These individuals became ill between late December and late January. All cases have recovered or are recovering.

The two most recent cases are 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
  Total 7

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 recalled and 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.

What you should do

Most strains of E. coli are harmless; however, some strains, such as E. coli O157:H7, can make people sick, causing severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Serious complications of an E. coli O157:H7 infection can include kidney failure.

If you think you are sick with an E. coli O157:H7 infection, consult a healthcare professional.

Symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection

Like other food-borne illnesses, the symptoms of E. coli infection mainly involve the gut. Symptoms may vary from person to person; however, they often include:

  • severe stomach cramps;
  • diarrhea (often watery and may develop into bloody);
  • vomiting; and
  • fever (generally not very high – usually less than 38.5˚C/101˚F).

Symptoms usually last five to seven days.

Overall, around 5 to 10 per cent of those who get sick from E. coli O157:H7 develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), an acute renal failure which can be fatal. Of those, children younger than 5 years old and the elderly are at greatest risk of developing HUS. Symptoms of HUS vary. Some people have seizures or strokes and some need blood transfusions and kidney dialysis. Others live with side effects such as permanent kidney damage.

Who is most at risk?

Infections can occur among people of all ages, however symptoms are likely to be more severe among the very young and the elderly.  Pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are also at high risk of developing serious complications.

How to protect yourself

Proper hygiene and safe food handling and preparation practices are key to preventing the spread of all food-borne illnesses, including E. coli.

Hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of foodborne illness.

Contaminated foods may look and smell normal. It is important to ensure that you thoroughly cook foods to destroy bacteria. Recalled products, however, should not be consumed and should be thrown away.

 

CFIA Issues Statement On Safeway/Cardinal Meat Specialists Investigation

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CFIA investigation into possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination

February 20, 2013 – Late yesterday evening, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced that Canada Safeway Ltd. recalled a range of products because of possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination.

The health and safety of Canadians is the top priority of the CFIA. An investigation is under way at the producing facility, Cardinal Meat Specialists Ltd., to examine how the burgers may have become contaminated. Our focus is two pronged: verifying that appropriate E. coli controls were applied in the facility and tracing all ingredients, which include domestic and international inputs, used in the recalled burgers. As our work progresses, additional products may be recalled.

This past December, the CFIA conducted a separate E. coli investigation after a different brand of burgers produced by Cardinal Meat Specialists Ltd. was recalled. At this point, work is underway to assess if and how these two situations may be linked. It’s important to note that Cardinal Meat Specialists Ltd. is one of the largest producers of frozen burger patties in Canada, sourcing ingredients from a variety of other suppliers. Therefore, its involvement in a recall of frozen burgers does not necessarily signal a problem in the Cardinal Meat Specialists Ltd. facility itself.

Last evening’s recall stems from samples of burgers taken from retail stores in response to the investigation of two cases of E. coli illness. The CFIA was informed of these cases on February 13 and based on the food histories of the people that became sick, we immediately began collecting samples of burgers from retail stores in Ontario and Western Canada for testing. The recall was initiated after our testing returned positive results for E. coli O157:H7. As a responsible precaution, Cardinal Meat Specialists Ltd. decided to recall all products produced on the same line and the same day as the burgers that tested positive. We are still awaiting test results to determine if the cases of illnesses are linked to the recalled burgers.

Industry has controls in place to manage E. coli at multiple points in the slaughter and processing process and we know that the incident of E. coli illnesses continues to decline. However, even in a well-functioning food safety system such as Canada’s, the presence of bacteria in raw products cannot be completely eliminated. Therefore, it is critical that consumers properly handle and prepare raw ground beef products. In particular, consumers must ensure that hamburger patties are cooked to at least 71°C all the way through. When preparing thicker patties, which are common today, additional cooking time is required, especially when patties are cooked from frozen. To be certain, consumers should use a meat thermometer. As well, consumers can prevent contamination of other foods by ensuring that cooking surfaces and utensils are well cleaned with soap and water after coming into contact with raw beef.

The CFIA remains committed to providing information on this investigation as it becomes available.

 

Canada Safeway Ltd Recalls Frozen Beef Burgers

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Certain THE GOURMET MEAT SHOPPE and THE BUTCHER’S CUT brands of Frozen Beef Burgers may contain E. coliO157:H7 bacteria

OTTAWA, February 19, 2013 – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Canada Safeway Limited are warning the public not to consume The Gourmet Meat Shoppe and The Butcher’s Cut brands of Frozen Beef Burgers described below because these products may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 bacteria.

The following products are affected by this Alert:

Brand Product Size UPC Code
The Gourmet Meat Shoppe Big & Juicy Burger 1.13kg 0 58200 10650 3 BEST BEFORE
2013 AU 14 EST752
The Gourmet Meat Shoppe Prime Rib Burger 907 g 0 58200 10733 3 BEST BEFORE
2013 AU 14 EST752
The Butcher’s Cut Pure Beef Patties
10 Patties
1.13kg 0 58200 21604 2 BEST BEFORE
2013 AU 14 EST752
The Butcher’s Cut Pure Beef Patties
20 Patties
2.27kg 0 58200 21592 2 BEST BEFORE
2013 AU 14 EST752
The Butcher’s Cut Pure Beef Patties
40 Patties
4.45kg 0 58200 21594 6 BEST BEFORE
2013 AU 14 EST752

Big & Juicy Burger
Meat Shoppe Big & Juicy Burger

Prime Rib Burger
Meat Shoppe Prime Rib Burger

Pure Beef Patties - 10 Patties
Pure Beef Patties – 10 Patties

Pure Beef Patties - 20 Patties
Pure Beef Patties – 20 Patties

Pure Beef Patties - 40 Patties
Pure Beef Patties – 40 Patties

These products have been distributed in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and Northwest Territories. Canada Safeway Limited, Calgary, Alberta, is voluntarily recalling the affected products from the marketplace. The CFIA is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall.

This recall is the result of E. coli O157:H7 product testing by the CFIA related to an ongoing outbreak investigation. The CFIA is currently conducting a food safety investigation at the producing facility to determine if any additional products may be affected.

Food contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 may not look or smell spoiled. Consumption of food contaminated with these bacteria may cause serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain and bloody diarrhoea. Some people may have seizures or strokes and some may need blood transfusions and kidney dialysis. Others may live with permanent kidney damage. In severe cases of illness, people may die.

For more information, consumers and industry can call one of the following numbers:

Canada Safeway Limited at (403) 730-3511;

CFIA at 1-800-442-2342 / TTY 1-800-465-7735 (8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday to Friday).

 

Last of Canada’s E. coli Tainted Lettuce Victims Discharged From Hospital

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Food Safety News:  Last of Canada’s E. coli Victims Discharged From Hospital

BY DAN FLYNN | JANUARY 28, 2013
Not a single E. coli O157:H7 outbreak can be considered a good one, but when everyone recovers it is about as good as it gets. And that’s how Canada’s January E. coli outbreak –sourced to California lettuce– is ending.“The last patient was discharged,” John Gillis, media relations advisor for the Capital Health District Authority in Nova Scotia, told Food Safety News.Last discharged was the one Nova Scotia patient out of the 30 E. coli victims in three provinces who also developed the kidney threatening Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS). In addition to that patient, a dozen other E. coli victims were hospitalized across Ontario and the Maritimes.

Canada’s lettuce-caused E. coli outbreak first surfaced on New Year’s Eve–Dec. 31, 2012–in New Brunswick. In the next 16 days, a total of 30 E. coli illnesses were confirmed; 7 in New Brunswick, 10 in Nova Scotia, and 13 in Ontario.

Canada usually reports about 440 cases of E. coli O157:H7 annually.

Also within the first week, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) was investigating an Ontario-based distributor called Freshpoint. And two days later, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) found through its epidemiological assessment that the likely source of the outbreak was lettuce the victims consumed at KFC and Taco Bell restaurants.

The last onset of illness, among the victims,  was on Jan. 9. They ranged in age from  1-83, and  half were male and half were female.

KFC and Taco Bell, units of the fast food giant Yum! Brands got their lettuce from Freshpoint. On Jan. 10, Freshpoint initiated a recall of the lettuce its distributed to KFC and Taco Bell, quickly expanded to include other restaurants and institutions it served.

By Jan. 12, CFIA says it’s unlikely given the shelf life of lettuce that any of the contaminated products remains in circulation.

CFIA has traced the lettuce to California, from a grower involved in the Leafy Green Marketing Agreement (LGMA). Food Safety News has learned that the CFIA investigation  is focused on a brand from a company on the central coast of California. It’s a brand that may involve multiple growers and CFIA is not yet ready to name names.

California’s LGMA is safety program developed by the state’s growers and their buyers to prevent product contamination. It involves private auditors and public inspections by the State of California.
Many of the LGMA practices–developed after the 2006 spinach outbreak of E. coli– are included in the new produce rule published for comment by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act.

© Food Safety News

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.