Ottawa Launches Review Into XL Foods E. coli Outbreak

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Panel will report back to Agriculture Canada with recommendations on improving food safety

The Canadian Press/CBC News
Agriculture Canada says an independent panel of experts will review what contributed to the outbreak of E. coli at the XL Foods Inc. plant in Brooks, Alta.Agriculture Canada says an independent panel of experts will review what contributed to the outbreak of E. coli at the XL Foods Inc. plant in Brooks, Alta. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

The federal government has launched a review of the E. coli outbreak last fall that sickened 18 people and led to the largest beef recall in Canadian history.

The review is to focus on what contributed to the outbreak of the potentially deadly bacteria at the XL Foods Inc. plant in Brooks, Alta.

It will also look at how well the Canadian Food Inspection Agency performed, including why tainted meat was distributed to retailers and sold to consumers.

XL Foods Recall

Agriculture Canada said the review will be conducted by an independent panel of experts who are to hand in a report with recommendations to improve food safety.

“We take the safety of Canada’s food supply very seriously and we remain committed to the continuous improvement of Canada’s strong food safety systems,” Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in a news release Friday evening.

Industry experts

At the time of the E. coli outbreak the XL Foods plant was the largest Canadian-owned beef slaughter facility in the country.

It is now owned and operated by JBS Food Canada, a subsidiary of JBS South America.

The federal government said the review panel includes recognized scientific, public health and meat industry experts.

They include Ronald Lewis, former chief veterinary officer for British Columbia; Dr. Andre Corriveau, chief public health officer for the Northwest Territories; and Ronald Usborne, a former executive with Caravelle Foods.

The review is to look at the design, implementation and oversight of food safety controls at the plant, including CFIA inspection policies, and how well testing information was shared by the company, inspectors and U.S. regulators.

The panel is to review the effectiveness of E. coli prevention protocols, including the ability to detect problems, recall beef products and how well the agency conducted followup investigations.

Federal documents have shown that CFIA inspectors issued six warnings to XL Foods about conditions in the plant between January 2012 and when the plant was temporarily shut down in September.

Some of the problems noted included improper sanitization of equipment, condensation dripping onto beef carcasses and containers overflowing with unsanitary water.

The agency said all of the problems cited were dealt with before the first cases of E. coli were found in beef produced at the plant.

The recall involved millions of tonnes of beef packaged in more than 2,000 different products across Canada and in many U.S. states.

The CFIA restored the plant’s operating licence on Oct. 23 and it was allowed to resume exports of beef products to the United States in December.

 

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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.

Updated Lettuce Recall List

Reference Number: 7688
Recalling Firm: FRESHPOINT TORONTO
Date of Recall: 1/13/2013
Recall Classification: 1
Distribution : New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec
Extent of the Product Distribution : Hotel/Restaurant/Institutional

Product List

Brand Name Common Name Size Codes(s) on Product UPC Reason for Recall:
SYSCO COMBO SEPARATE SALAD 1 x 5lb With a Use By date of January 8, 2013 or earlier and lot codes 5011, 5021, 5031, 5041, 5051, 5111, 5121, 5131, 5141, 5151, 5211, 5221, 5231, and 5241 None / Aucun Microbiological – E. coli O157:H7
SYSCO CHOP LETTUCE ICEBERG 5 x 4lb With a Use By date of January 8, 2013 or earlier and lot codes 5011, 5021, 5031, 5041, 5051, 5111, 5121, 5131, 5141, 5151, 5211, 5221, 5231, and 5241 10074865394076 Microbiological – E. coli O157:H7
SYSCO SALAD MIX HARMONY 5 x 4lb With a Use By date of January 8, 2013 or earlier and lot codes 5011, 5021, 5031, 5041, 5051, 5111, 5121, 5131, 5141, 5151, 5211, 5221, 5231, and 5241 10883278074582 Microbiological – E. coli O157:H7
SYSCO 1/4″ SHRED LETTUCE ICEBERG 4 x 2lb With a Use By date of January 8, 2013 or earlier and lot codes 5011, 5021, 5031, 5041, 5051, 5111, 5121, 5131, 5141, 5151, 5211, 5221, 5231, and 5241 None / Aucun Microbiological – E. coli O157:H7
SYSCO CHEF SALAD MIX 5 x 4lb With a Use By date of January 8, 2013 or earlier and lot codes 5011, 5021, 5031, 5041, 5051, 5111, 5121, 5131, 5141, 5151, 5211, 5221, 5231, and 5241 None / Aucun Microbiological – E. coli O157:H7
SYSCO ARAMARK MIXED VEGETABLE PACK 1 x 1lb With a Use By date of January 8, 2013 or earlier and lot codes 5011, 5021, 5031, 5041, 5051, 5111, 5121, 5131, 5141, 5151, 5211, 5221, 5231, and 5241 None / Aucun Microbiological – E. coli O157:H7
SYSCO CHOP LETTUCE ICEBERG 1 x 5lb With a Use By date of January 8, 2013 or earlier and lot codes 5011, 5021, 5031, 5041, 5051, 5111, 5121, 5131, 5141, 5151, 5211, 5221, 5231, and 5241 None / Aucun Microbiological – E. coli O157:H7
SYSCO 1/8″ SHRED LETTUCE ICEBERG 5 x 4lb With a Use By date of January 8, 2013 or earlier and lot codes 5011, 5021, 5031, 5041, 5051, 5111, 5121, 5131, 5141, 5151, 5211, 5221, 5231, and 5241 10074865178676 Microbiological – E. coli O157:H7
SYSCO CHOP SALAD MIX 50/50 2 x 5lb With a Use By date of January 8, 2013 or earlier and lot codes 5011, 5021, 5031, 5041, 5051, 5111, 5121, 5131, 5141, 5151, 5211, 5221, 5231, and 5241 10883278081462 Microbiological – E. coli O157:H7
BURGER KING BK WHOLE ICEBERG LETTUCE 24 HEADS With a Use By date of January 8, 2013 or earlier and lot codes 5011, 5021, 5031, 5041, 5051, 5111, 5121, 5131, 5141, 5151, 5211, 5221, 5231, and 5241 None / Aucun Microbiological – E. coli O157:H7
SYSCO CHOP LETTUCE ROMAINE 2 x 2lb With a Use By date of January 10, 2013 or earlier and lot codes 4941, 4951, 5011, 5021, 5031, 5041, 5051, 5061, 5111, 5121, 5131, 5141, 5151, 5211, 5231, 5241, 5251, 5261 None / Aucun Microbiological – E. coli O157:H7
SYSCO 1″ CHOP PANERA LETTUCE ROMAINE 6 x 2lb With a Use By date of January 10, 2013 or earlier and lot codes 4941, 4951, 5011, 5021, 5031, 5041, 5051, 5061, 5111, 5121, 5131, 5141, 5151, 5211, 5231, 5241, 5251, 5261 None / Aucun Microbiological – E. coli O157:H7
SYSCO PREMIUM CHOP LETTUCE ROMAINE HEARTS 6 x 2lb With a Use By date of January 10, 2013 or earlier and lot codes 4941, 4951, 5011, 5021, 5031, 5041, 5051, 5061, 5111, 5121, 5131, 5141, 5151, 5211, 5231, 5241, 5251, 5261 10074865916643 Microbiological – E. coli O157:H7
NONE – PACKAGED FOR USE BY PIZZA HUT 1 1/2″ CHOP ROMAINE LETTUCE 6 x 2lb With a Use By date of January 10, 2013 or earlier and lot codes 4941, 4951, 5011, 5021, 5031, 5041, 5051, 5061, 5111, 5121, 5131, 5141, 5151, 5211, 5231, 5241, 5251, 5261 None / Aucun Microbiological – E. coli O157:H7
BURGER KING CANADA 1 1/2″ CUT ROMAINE LETTUCE BK-2002 6 x 2lb With a Use By date of January 10, 2013 or earlier and lot codes 4941, 4951, 5011, 5021, 5031, 5041, 5051, 5061, 5111, 5121, 5131, 5141, 5151, 5211, 5231, 5241, 5251, 5261 None / Aucun Microbiological – E. coli O157:H7
NONE – PACKAGED FOR USE BY YUM 1 1/2″ CHOP ROMAINE LETTUCE 3 x 2lb With a Use By date of January 10, 2013 or earlier and lot codes 4941, 4951, 5011, 5021, 5031, 5041, 5051, 5061, 5111, 5121, 5131, 5141, 5151, 5211, 5231, 5241, 5251, 5261 10883278093724 Microbiological – E. coli O157:H7
FRESHPOINT CHOP ROMAINE 6 x 907 g With a Use By date of January 10, 2013 or earlier and lot codes 4941, 4951, 5011, 5021, 5031, 5041, 5051, 5061, 5111, 5121, 5131, 5141, 5151, 5211, 5231, 5241, 5251, 5261 None / Aucun Microbiological – E. coli O157:H7
SYSCO 1 1/2″ CHOP ROMAINE LETTUCE 6 x 2lb With a Use By date of January 10, 2013 or earlier and lot codes 4941, 4951, 5011, 5021, 5031, 5041, 5051, 5061, 5111, 5121, 5131, 5141, 5151, 5211, 5231, 5241, 5251, 5261 10074865451069 Microbiological – E. coli O157:H7

 

KFC-Taco Bell E. coli Contaminated Lettuce Confirmed Cases Reaches 30

Public Health Notice: E. coli O157:H7 illnesses in the Maritimes and Ontario

Updated: 18 January 2013

Why you should take note

 

Since our last update, 1 additional case of E. coli O157:H7 illness was confirmed in New Brunswick as part of this outbreak. This brings the total number of cases to 30. These individuals became ill between late December and early January.

The latest evidence in the Public Health Agency of Canada’s food-borne illness investigation indicates that the most probable cause of the E. coli O157:H7 illnesses in the Maritimes and Ontario is shredded lettuce distributed by FreshPoint Inc. primarily to some KFC and KFC-Taco Bell restaurants. The products were not distributed to grocery stores.

Lettuce has a short shelf life, therefore contaminated products are unlikely to still be available.

As a precaution, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is working with FreshPoint Inc. to recall any remaining affected products. At this point, the source of contamination for the shredded lettuce has not been determined. The CFIA has traced the lettuce to its origin in California and has notified U.S. authorities of this finding. The CFIAis verifying that appropriate food safety controls were followed at each step of production, processing and distribution. Immediate action will be taken to ensure that any unsafe food is removed from the marketplace.

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. There are 7 cases in New Brunswick, 10 in Nova Scotia and 13 in Ontario. The majority of cases have recovered or are recovering. Additional cases of illness may be identified and linked to this outbreak in the future.

Products contaminated with E. coli O157 can pose a serious public health risk.

Status

Investigations into outbreaks of food-borne illness can be complex. Since early January 2013, the Agency has been leading a committee to investigate these illnesses that includes public health and food safety experts from the CFIA, Health Canada and Provincial Health Authorities. The committee meets regularly to share and review the latest information and determine what actions should be taken to protect Canadians.

The Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and provincial health and food safety authorities will continue their investigation to determine if additional action is required to protect Canadians.

More information about the epidemiological investigation is also available.

 

Province / Territory Total confirmed cases
New Brunswick 7
Nova Scotia 10
Ontario 13
Total 30

E. coli O157 food-borne illnesses are not uncommon in Canada. In recent years, an average of about 440 cases of this type of E. coli infection was reported annually in Canada.

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 infection, consult a healthcare professional.

Symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection

Like other foodborne 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 foodborne 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 wash your fruits and vegetables before eating them, and cook meat to a safe internal temperature.

KFC-Taco Bell E. coli Problem Worsens

In Canada, 26 Cases of E. coli 0157:H7 Associated with KFC and Taco Bell

January 13, 2013 By  foodpoisoningbulletin

E.-coli-food-illnessThe Public Health Agency of Canada is investigating an E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak that has now sickened at least 26 people. The outbreak is located in the Maritimes and Ontario and is associated with shredded lettuce produced by Freshpoint Inc. and sold at KFC and KFC-Taco Bell restaurants. The lettuce was not distributed to grocery stores.

 

A recall has been announced. The source of contamination has not been determined. The lettuce originally came from California. U.S. officials have been notified of this outbreak. Public health officials are investigating to see if food safety controls were followed at each step along the production and supply chain.

So far, there are six cases of E. coli 0157:H7 in New Brunswick, ten cases in Nova Scotia, and ten cases in Ontario. Most of those sickened have recovered or are recovering. There may be more cases of illness identified as the investigation continues. The reported illnesses occurred between late December and early January.

The public can help government officials take control of this outbreak. If you are suffering symptoms of E. coli 0157:H7, such as severe stomach cramps, watery and/or bloody diarrhea, and vomiting, see your doctor immediately. And stay home when you are sick. About 5-10% of those who contract this infection develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause kidney failure and can be fatal. Thorough hand washing is the best way to prevent person-to-person spread of this illness. And follow general food safety rules and precautions at all times.

____________________________________________________

E. coli-Contaminated Lettuce Came from a California LGMA Grower

BY DAN FLYNN foodsafetynews | JANUARY 15, 2013

First it was just plain old lettuce, then it was California-grown lettuce, and now the latest from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is that was lettuce from a grower who has signed onto the California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement.

In explaining how that lettuce contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 came across the border from the U.S., CFIA now points to how involvement in the Leafy Green Marketing Agreement (LGMA) is a quick ticket across the international border for California-grown lettuce.

The idea is simple. Since the 115 California leafy green producers submit to a mandatory food safety program, they can check “Box 22″ on their Confirmation of Sale’s (COS) document and enter Canada almost without slowing down.

Amazing Coachella

And, the LGMA agreement may be the most stringent food safety program for leafy green producers on the planet. It includes mandatory government audits for lettuce, spinach, and other leafy greens that follow a “best practices” model to reduce risk. It focuses on water, soil and other environmental conditions along with farm worker hygiene and harvest controls.

Still, the current E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, with at least 26 illnesses in three provinces, marks the second time in two years that California-grown lettuce served in Canadian restaurants has been responsible for a foodborne illness outbreak.

Last year’s outbreak involved two restaurants in Canada’s New Brunswick and one in Orange County, California. Genetic fingerprinting connected Amazing Coachella Inc., a Coachella, CA-based producer, to the illnesses in both countries.

This year’s outbreak involves KFC and Taco Bell outlets, restaurants of the Yum! Brands chain that receive fresh lettuce in the middle of winter from FreshPoint, a distributor in Toronto. CFIA has yet to name the actual grower, a subject that is giving the tight leafy green community in California something talk about.

“We’ve been reaching out some,” says April Ward, LGMA’s communications director who is based in Sacramento. Her members are talking about it, but no one has coughed up the name of the responsible grower – yet.

LGMA, in a statement issued on Chairman Ryan Talley’s blog, promises to fully cooperate with all those investigating the latest incident.

“Consumers should know that if there is an outbreak determined to be associated with California leafy greens, the LGMA is committed to working with health officials to assist in determining the cause,” he said. “Traceback and recall capabilities that are a mandatory part of our program can be initiated and any product with the potential to be associated with the outbreak is removed from market channels to protect consumers.”

“Information about any implicated farms is made available to authorities, and re-inspections can be done,” he continued. “If it is determined that an outbreak is the result of any on-farm practice, the food safety measures included in the LGMA program will be examined and, if necessary, changed.”

Talley said when LGMA hears about an possible outbreak involving one of its members, “We jump in to learn more.”

While California lettuce growers are aware of the Canadian outbreak involving their product, they aren’t too into speculating about who is involved. Tom Lathos, chief operating officer at Sun Coast Farms, said he’d sooner end his day at the beach, doing some January surfing.

Letting a pathogen slip through does not mean a producer loses its LGMA status. Under the program, a producer can be decertified or ordered to take corrective action. But Amazing Coachella Inc. remains in good standing as an LGMA member.

The LGMA program includes roles for both private sector auditors and California Department of Food and Agriculture inspectors. It was created in response to the 2006 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with spinach grown in California’s Salinas Valley, often called the “America’s Salad Bowl.”  In that outbreak, 205 were sickened and 5 died.

Talley says the LGMA program meets and/or exceeds the requirements of the new Produce Safety Rule, recently published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the two-year-old Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

All LGMA members use the organization’s service mark on bills of lading to assure customers that its products were produced under the best food safety practices available today. Growers who today can use that service mark include:

Agro Jal Farms Inc, Santa Maria
Amazing Coachella Inc/DBA Peter Rabbit Farms, Coachella
Amigo Farms Inc, Yuma
Andrew Smith Co, Spreckels
Anthony Costa and Sons, Soledad
Apio Inc, Guadalupe
Babe Farms Inc, Santa Maria
Badlands / El Don, Brawley
Baloian Packing Co Inc, Fresno
Beachside Produce LLC, Guadalupe
Bengard Ranch Inc, Salinas
Big E Produce, Lompoc
Blanton Produce Co, Salinas
Boggiatto Produce Inc, Salinas
Bonipak Produce Co, Santa Maria
Boskovich Farms, Oxnard
C and E Farms Inc, Salinas
Cal Cel Marketing Inc, Oxnard
Channel Islands Farm, Inc, Oxnard
Church Bros LLC, Salinas
Classic Salads LLC, Salinas
Coastal Fresh Farms, Westlake Village
Coastline / Sunridge Farms Inc, Salinas
Country Sweet Produce Inc, Bakersfield
Creekside Organics Inc., Bakersfield
Crystal Organic/Grimmway Farms, Bakersfield
D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of CA, Salinas
Dan Andrews Farms, Bakersfield
Deardorff Family Farms, Oxnard
Diamond Produce Co, Salinas
Dole Fresh Vegetables, Salinas
Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc-Cal, Salinas
Durant Distributing, Santa Maria
Dynasty Farms Inc, Salinas
Earthbound Farm, San Juan Bautista
EpicVeg, Lompoc
Ernie Strahm & Sons, Inc – Holtville
Faurot Ranch LLC, Watsonville
Field Fresh Farms, Watsonville
Fisher Ranch Corporation, Blythe
Fratelli Farms, Hollister
Fresh Choice Marketing Inc, Oxnard
Fresh Express Inc, Salinas
Fresh Kist, Nipomo
Fresh Origins LLC, San Marcos
Fresh Roots LLC, Salinas
George Amaral Ranches Inc, Gonzales
Gold Coast Packing Co, Santa Maria
Greengate Fresh LLLP, Salinas
Growers Express LLC, Salinas
Ippolito International, Salinas
Jayleaf LLC, Hollister
Joe Heger Farms LLC, El Centro
John S Tamagni and Sons, Inc, Spreckels
Kawaguchi Farms, Arroyo Grande
Keber Distributing, Thermal
Kenter Canyon Farms, Sun Valley
Lakeside Organic Gardens LLC, Watsonville
Mann Packing Co Inc, Salinas
Misionero Vegetables, Salinas
Muranaka Farms, Moorpark
Nava Enterprise Inc, Oxnard
New Star Fresh Foods LLC | organicgirl, Salinas
North Country Produce, Paso Robles
Ocean Mist Farms, Castroville
Pablo’s Produce, Oxnard
Pacific Coast Produce, Santa Maria
Pacific Fresh Produce Inc, Oxnard
Pacific International Marketing, Salinas
Pacific Marketing Co, Salinas
Pacific Pride Marketing LLC, Oxnard
Pajaro Valley Fresh Fruit And Veg Dist, Watsonville
Pismo Oceano Vegetable Exch, Oceano
Premium Valley Produce, Inc, Scottsdale
Pure Pacific Organics, Salinas
Purepak Inc / Pacific Ridge Farms LLC, Oxnard
Ratto Bros Inc, Modesto
Ready Pac Foods Inc, Duarte
Real Fresh Farms Inc., Santa Paula
River Ranch Fresh Food LLC, Salinas
Royal Rose LLC / European Vegetable Specialties, Salinas
Sabor Farms, Salinas
Salad Savoy Corp, Salinas
San Cristobal Distributing Inc, Oxnard
San Miguel Produce, Oxnard
Santa Barbara Farms Packing, Lompoc
Scarborough Farms Inc, Oxnard
Seaboard Produce/Variety Marketing, Oxnard
Silva Farms, Gonzales
Steinbeck Country Produce, Spreckels
Strahm Farms Inc, Holtville
Sun Coast Farms, Santa Maria
Sun Terra Produce Traders Inc, Newport Beach
Sunamerica Produce, Salinas
Sunfresh USA Inc, Santa Paula
Sunsation Farms Inc, Monterey
Talley Farms Inc, Arroyo Grande
Tanimura And Antle Fresh Foods, Inc, Salinas
Taylor Farms, Salinas
The Nunes Co Inc, Salinas
The Salad Farm LLC, Salinas
True Leaf Farms, Salinas
Vessey And Company Inc, Holtville
William Consalo and Sons, Bakersfield

One of them likely shipped lettuce to Freshpoint.

© Food Safety News

 

E. coli source likely lettuce at KFC/Taco Bell

Product recalled, no new cases expected, health officials say

CBC News

Posted: Jan 11, 2013 4:57 PM AT

The source of a potentially deadly strain of E. coli in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario was likely lettuce served at KFC/Taco Bell outlets, health officials say.

All suspect lettuce has been recalled, they said Friday afternoon.

“The evidence from our collaborative investigation leads us to believe that the common food source was distributed to this fast-food restaurant chain,” said Dr. Frank Atherton, Nova Scotia’s deputy chief medical officer of health.

“Lettuce has a limited shelf life, and we have not seen a new case in more than a week. This tells us it is highly unlikely the food item remains in the food chain. As an added precaution, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is issuing a recall of the lettuce products.”

He added that the fault did not lie with the restaurants, but with FreshPoint, the company that supplied the lettuce.

No new cases of E. coli O157 are expected, officials said.

Nova Scotia has had 10 confirmed cases of E. coli O157 in the past couple of weeks. At least five are linked to the outbreak.

New Brunswick has also had six confirmed cases, while Ontario has had five. All of the patients have been treated and are recovering, Atherton said.

Dr. Eilish Cleary, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer, said it was hard to pin down the particular outlet. The lettuce was distributed to other fast-food chains, but the cases were all linked to Taco Bell/KFC.

“When we looked at the food history of our patients, they had eaten at several locations, so we were unable to pinpoint exactly which ones they were exposed at,” she said.

Sabir Sami, president of KFC/Taco Bell parent company Yum Restaurants, said his company takes the developments seriously.

“We’re obviously concerned, as this lettuce provided to us by FreshPoint has been distributed to many area restaurants in Canada, including ours,” he said in a news release.

“We have removed all the affected lettuce from our restaurants in Canada and want to reassure our customers that our food is perfectly safe to eat. The health and safety of our customers is our top priority.”

E. coli O157 is the same strain that killed seven people in Walkerton, Ont., in 2000. It secretes a powerful toxin that can cause severe illness, high blood pressure and kidney damage.

Romaine lettuce was determined to be the likely source of an E. coli outbreak in Miramichi., N.B., in April. At least 13 people in the northern New Brunswick city were infected with that strain of E. coli O157, while another 11 people may have also been infected with that strain, officials said at the time.

 

CBC News: ‘National’ E. coli outbreak probe looks to fast food

E. coli O157 confirmed in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario

CBC News

Posted: Jan 9, 2013 12:18 PM ET

Dr. Eilish Cleary believes the source may no longer be a threat because no new cases have been diagnosed.
Dr. Eilish Cleary believes the source may no longer be a threat because no new cases have been diagnosed. (CBC)
A “national outbreak” of a potentially deadly strain of E. coli may be linked to fast food restaurants, health officials say.

Six cases of E. coli O157 have been confirmed in New Brunswick, while Nova Scotia has had five and Ontario four.

An additional five E. coli cases identified by Nova Scotia health officials are still awaiting confirmation from the national laboratory in Winnipeg to see if they are from the same strain.

The source of contamination is still under investigation, but Dr. Eilish Cleary, the chief medical officer of health in New Brunswick, believes they could be connected to fast food restaurants.

“In our investigation, one of the significant facts is that all of these individuals have eaten in fast food restaurants, but there are a number of different restaurants that they’ve eaten in, and they all have consumed a wide range of food, including meat products and produce,” Cleary said on Wednesday.

Officials believe the source may no longer be a threat, because no new cases have been reported since the holidays, and the normal incubation period is 10 days, she said.

Although the sixth case in New Brunswick was only confirmed on Wednesday, it was not a new case, said Cleary. The Fredericton patient was diagnosed over the holidays, like the others, but the case was previously attributed to one of the other provinces because the individual travels back and forth, she said.

“So it’s really a numbers reconciling as opposed to a new individual in Canada,” she said, declining to say which other province the case had been attributed to, citing patient privacy.

“So we’re hopeful that whatever it was that caused the exposure has come and gone from the food chain here.”

Still, it should be easier to narrow the source down now with all three provinces comparing notes, said Cleary.

“The more you have to compare, in terms of numbers, the greater the likelihood that we will identify something.”

Dr. Frank Atherton, Nova Scotia’s deputy chief medical officer of health, agrees.”We still have a very large provincial role to play but we need to look at it in the context of what’s happening in those other provinces,” he said.

“We know that there’s a common source for this infection across the three provinces. That’s important because it means, really, this is now a national outbreak.”

National advisory issued

E. coli O157 is the same strain that killed seven people in Walkerton, Ont., in 2000.

This particular strain of E. coli secretes a powerful toxin that can destroy red blood cells, leading to severe illness, high blood pressure and kidney damage.

E. coli O157 is the same strain that killed seven people during the tainted water scandal in Walkerton, Ont., in 2000.

E. coli O157 is the same strain that killed seven people during the tainted water scandal in Walkerton, Ont., in 2000. (CBC)The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued an advisory about the latest outbreak in the three provinces.

“Products contaminated with E. coli O157 can pose a serious public health risk,” the release states.

“Since early January 2013, the agency has been leading a committee to investigate these illnesses that includes public health and food safety experts from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Health Canada and provincial health authorities,” it states.

“Based on the ongoing epidemiological and microbiological investigations conducted to date, it is likely that the people involved all got sick from the same source.”

E. coli can be transmitted by eating under-cooked meat, food contaminated during preparation, or from another person infected with E. coli.

Dr. Robert Strang, the chief public health officer in Nova Scotia, has said the likely source of the outbreak is produce.

One of the possibilities being investigated is lettuce that may have been chopped or processed, he said.

Of the New Brunswick cases, two were in the Saint John region, while four were in the Fredericton area. All six patients are recovering, including the one who had to be hospitalized and has since been released.

Of Nova Scotia’s 10 cases, five were in the Capital District Health Authority, two in the Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority, and one each in Pictou County, Cumberland and Colchester East Hants health authorities. Those patients have all recovered, or are recovering.

E. coli O157 led to the biggest beef recall in Canadian history last fall. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency recalled more than 1,500 beef products that were packed at XL Foods, a meat processing plant in Brooks, Alta.

It also put two Fredericton teenagers in hospital in July.

Another outbreak of E. coli O157 in Miramichi in April hospitalized at least 13 people.

Symptoms of E. coli O157 resemble gastro-intestinal illness, such as severe cramps, bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain and vomiting.

Precautions include thorough hand washing after using the bathroom or changing diapers, peeling all raw vegetables and fruits before eating, thoroughly cooking all meat and preventing contac

t between cooked foods and raw poultry or other meats.

 

 

E. coli Outbreak Proves Illusive…16 Cases Now Confirmed

Public Health Notice: E. coli O157:H7 illnesses in Atlantic Canada and Ontario

Updated: 9 January 2013

Why you should take note

 

Today, an additional case of E.coli O157:H7 was confirmed in Ontario as part of this outbreak. This brings Ontario’s number of cases to 5 and the total to 16.

Products contaminated with E. coli O157 can pose a serious public health risk.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has been working with its health and food safety partners on an investigation into 16 cases of E. coli O157:H7 illness. There are six cases in New Brunswick, five in Nova Scotia and five in Ontario. The majority of cases have recovered or are recovering.

Status

Investigations into outbreaks of food-borne illness can be complex. Since early January 2013, the Agency has been leading a committee to investigate these illnesses that includes public health and food safety experts from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Health Canada and Provincial 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 the ongoing epidemiological and microbiological investigations conducted to date, it is likely that the people involved all got sick from the same source. More information about the epidemiological investigation is also available.

We don’t know what the source of the illness is, but that investigation is continuing.

Province / Territory Total confirmed cases
New Brunswick 6
Nova Scotia 5
Ontario 5
Total 16

E. coli O157 food-borne illnesses are not uncommon in Canada. In recent years, an average of about 440 cases of this type of E. coli infection was reported annually in Canada.

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 infection, consult a healthcare professional.

Symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection

Like other foodborne 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.

Around 5 to 10 per cent of those who get sick from E. coli O157:H7 overall and about 15 per cent of young children and the elderly develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can be fatal. 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.

CBC News: XL Foods warned 6 times over lapses before E. coli outbreak

Correction Action Requests issued at Alberta plant for sanitation, contamination

CBC News

Posted: Jan 8, 2013 10:56 AM ET

Cattle in pasture beside XL Foods' Lakeside Packers plant at Brooks, Alta., on Oct. 1. Reports from CFIA inspectors that were released under Access to Information show the plant was reprimanded six times in the months leading up to an E. coli outbreak last summer.Cattle in pasture beside XL Foods’ Lakeside Packers plant at Brooks, Alta., on Oct. 1. Reports from CFIA inspectors that were released under Access to Information show the plant was reprimanded six times in the months leading up to an E. coli outbreak last summer. (Larry MacDougal/Canadian Press)

An Alberta meat-processing plant at the centre of Canada’s largest beef recall was ordered to address serious problems six times in the months leading up to an E. coli outbreak last summer, documents obtained by CBC News show.

The issues identified by Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspectors at the Brooks plant, known as Establishment 38, included:

  • Failure to sanitize cutting tools and workspaces.
  • Improper labelling.
  • Mixing of edible and inedible parts of carcasses.
  • Lapses in building maintenance that saw condensation from pipes dripping onto carcasses.

The details are contained in six Corrective Action Requests (CARs) and followup reports obtained by CBC News under Access to Information requests.

The XL Foods plant’s licence was suspended on Sept. 27 because of concerns about E. coli contamination and deficiencies identified by the CFIA at the facility.

The suspension came weeks after an alert was issued by U.S. inspectors who discovered the presence of E. coli in a shipment of beef from XL Foods. At least 18 people were made ill from meat traced to the plant, and a recall expanded to more than 1,500 products while tonnes of beef from the plant had to be destroyed.

CARs are issued by CFIA inspectors in a plant when a formal response is required from the company “to ensure changes that are needed to be taken to allow the facility to be in compliance with the various federal acts and regulations are completed,” according to the CFIA.

An in-depth investigation carried out after the detection of E. coli in September resulted in six more CARs being issued and completed before the plant was allowed to open in late October.

But the CARs released Monday show problems had been identified at the plant months earlier.

A CAR issued on Feb. 14 cited improper building maintenance, including a blast freezer door that did not properly close, exposed insulation, a missing seal on a washroom door and other violations, while also noting that earlier work orders issued to fix some of the problems had not been carried out. A month later, following an extension, a followup report found the issues had been addressed. The serial number for this CAR suggests the concerns dated to 2011.

5 more CARs issued

After that, starting in May, five more CARs were issued, mostly due to violations of sanitation and operational procedures. These included:

  • A May 5 inspection that found “cows and bulls dragging on equipment wash platform” in around the pre-break room, improper sanitation of the saw used to cut the necks of the animals, “necks and shanks” pulled over buckets of inedible byproducts, use of unlabelled sanitary spray bottles and contamination of carcasses. Followup inspections found continued problems.
  • A June 7 inspection that found poor monitoring of product labelling, and missing labels and paperwork for pallets and boxes of meat.
  • A June 26 inspection that found workers were not properly washing cutting tools and hooks while cutting carcasses, and not cleaning contaminated carcasses before cutting them. The report says production was stopped for three minutes while “team members were removed and retrained before continuing.” Another employee who was not sanitizing a knife between cuts through a hide was “removed and replaced.”
  • An Aug. 7 CAR reporting production was stopped for 35 minutes and 315 carcasses held back “for water dripping on carcasses” in the carcass-cooling room from “condensation formed and dripping from rails, pipes, refer drip pans and structure.” In a followup inspection three days later, the CFIA inspector identified “plastic (sic) overflowing with unsanitary water and condensation dripping from rails/structures” in the killing room, and “initiated action to hold 765 carcasses from start of production until time of incident.”
  • An Aug. 20 inspection that raised concerns about employees’ sanitation practices and sanitary conditions on cutting tools, computers, cutting boards, trim stations and floor areas.

CARs were ‘effectively addressed,’ CFIA says

The CFIA reports list both immediate actions taken by inspectors and followup plans to meet the corrective actions.

The followup reports indicate each of the CARs were closed within a week to five weeks of the orders being issued, and most involved retraining and interviewing of employees to ensure they understood proper sanitation and operational procedures.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the CFIA said “all of these CARs were effectively addressed by the company and were closed within the time-frame required by the CFIA.”

“CFIA inspectors are in constant communication with plant management throughout the production day at federally registered meat establishments. When an inspector observes a potential issue of concern, they inform plant management,” the statement said.

The XL Foods plant was allowed to reopen Oct. 23 under enhanced surveillance and increased testing protocols, with more than 46 CFIA inspectors assigned to monitor slaughter procedures.

JBS, the company that runs the XL Foods plant, said it had no comment because these issues came up before it took over the management of the plant in mid-October.

Looking over the documents, beef expert Ted Haney said he isn’t surprised.

“There’s no such thing as zero risk, there’s no such thing as perfection,” he said. “It was reported, which is good, which means it was acted upon.”

CFIA – Corrective Action Requests XL Foods