Intercity Packers Beef Behind Ottawa Salmonella Outbreak


The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) confirmed this weekend that a production lot of Beef Burger Meat Mix 80/20 – recalled on April 6th by Intercity Packers (East) Ltd – was the source of an outbreak of Salmonella illnesses that sickened 50 people in Ottawa during March.

The Ottawa outbreak victims – including 40 children ranging in age from 15 months to 18 years – consisted mainly of students and staff at a day care and at more than a dozen schools in the Ottawa area. Three people were hospitalized as a result of their infections.

The outbreak was traced to The Lunch Lady, a caterer that supplied lunches to the affected schools and to the day care facility. Investigations carried out at the catering premises revealed the presence of Salmonella Typhimurium in a March 13th sample of frozen uncooked ground beef, and the presence of Salmonella Heidelberg in raw Halal chicken sampled on March 15th.

Traceback investigations identified the contaminated beef as having originated from Intercity Packers (East) Ltd., located in Mississauga, Ontario.

The recalled meat, identified as Intercity Packers Ltd Brand Beef Burger Meat Mix 80/20, was sold in 5 kg cases (each containing 2 x 2.5 kg units) bearing UPC 90066172180172 and lot code 046. The affected product can be identified by the Establishment number (EST) 503 that appears on the outer cases. The chubs inside the case do not carry any label. The product was distributed to public and commercial food establishments in Ontario and Newfoundland, and possibly also to retailers in Newfoundland.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency reports that Ontario and local public health authorities are participating in the outbreak investigation, including in parts of southern Ontario outside of Ottawa. Neither the total number of illnesses nor geographic locations where other suspected outbreak-related illnesses are under investigation have been revealed. PHAC has described the outbreak as comprising “more than 50 illnesses” in Ontario.

On March 2nd, Toronto Public Health reported an unusually high incidence of Salmonella illnesses – 114 cases during the first two months of 2012. Included in these cases were an outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium illnesses among attendees at a large catered event in York Region that took place on February 11th, and a separate outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg illnesses that across the Greater Toronto Area.

Requests for additional information sent to Toronto Public Health, PHAC, the Ontario Ministry of Health and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency so far have elicited only “canned” referrals to the PHAC and CFIA web sites. A request emailed to Intercity Packers for comment has not yet received a reply.

The recalled Beef Burger Mix was identified as bearing lot code 046, which indicates that it likely was produced on February 15th – too late to be responsible for the February 11th York Region outbreak cluster of Salmonella Typhimurium infections, even if burgers were on the menu at the event.

It would not be unusual – depending on the findings of the investigation – for the recall to be expanded to include additional production lots predating or subsequent to the lot that already has been recalled.

eFoodAlert Advice to Consumers

  • Consumers in Newfoundland who may have purchased this product at retail should check their freezers and discard any suspect product.
  • Any consumer in Ontario and Newfoundland who develops gastroenteritis (diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, low-grade fever) within seven days of consuming a beef burger – especially in a restaurant, cafeteria, institution or at a catered event – should seek medical attention.

3 thoughts on “Intercity Packers Beef Behind Ottawa Salmonella Outbreak

  1. Yes Bill Riedel ,I fully agree with you on the matter of public disclosure of the qualifications of the personnel (both from the industry’s side and from the regulatory body’s side like that of CFIA’s side here in Canada)working in the food/meat processing plants both for the federally registered food/meat plants and also for the provincially registered food/meat plants . This public disclosure of the qualifications of the persons working in the food/meat industries in Canada will protect the consumers right to know who are inspecting our food in which plant from food/meat industry’s side and from CFIA/OMAFRA/MUNICIPALITY’S side and only then our food safety system at grass-root level will be strengthened .

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  2. I think the lack of qualifications works both ways. Having worked both in industry and regulatory, I was always surprised how few people studied food science or food microbiology; but, on graduation took jobs in the food industry and food regulatory end of the food field and acted like experts!!! I believe the qualifications of persons who act as food scientists should be subject to public disclosure both for industry and regulatory – add to that NGO’s who act as food safety experts.

    And while I am at it, let me suggest that analytical results shoud be accompanied with the ANALYST’S check sample (known sample) analytical results.

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  3. THERE IS AN EXTREMELY SERIOUS MEAT SCIENCE ILLITERACY PROBLEM IN AND AROUND THE MEAT PROCESSING INDUSTRY IN CANADA.

    IF A MEAT PROCESSING INDUSTRY CLAIMS WELL TO DO ONLY WITH HACCP BUT FULLY NURTURES MEAT SCIENCE ILLITERACY INSIDE AND OUSIDE OF MEAT PROCESSING PLANT THEN HACCP OR, SQF CERTIFICATION WILL NOT HELP . QC/ HACCP PERSONNEL IN A MEAT PROCESSING PLANT MAY BE COMPLETELY MEAT SCIENCE ILLITERATE MEANING IN THEIR LIFETIME HAVE NEVER STUDIED MEAT SCIENCE IN COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY LEVEL SPEAK VOLUMES IN ITSELF THAT MERELY HACCP CERTIFICATION WILL NOT UPKEEP THE FOOD SAFETY. HENCE, THE CONSUMERS REMAIN UNSAFETY ABOUT THEIR MEAT THEY PURCHASE FROM THE RETAIL STORE WHERE THESE MEAT PROCESSORS SUPPLY MEAT IN VARIOUS PACKAGED FORMAT. THERE ARE MANY MEAT PROCESSING COMPANIES IN CANADA WHERE THE ALL OR, MANY OR, SOME QC/ HACCP PERSONNEL OF THE SAME MEAT PROCESSING COMPANY HAS NEVER STUDIED FOOD MICROBIOLOGY IN THEIR LIFETIME.
    THE ABOVE SAID IS DEFINITELY A BIZARRE FOOD SAFETY CULTURE IN THE MEAT PROCESSING INDUSTRIES IN CANADA IF VIEWED MAJORLY IN GENERAL AND IN A BROAD SPRECTUM. CANADIAN FOOD SAFETY AUTHORITY SHOULD GO TO EACH AND EVERY MEAT PROCESSING PLANT(FEDERALLY REGISTERED PLANT) AND OBTAIN A COPY OF THE QUALIFICATIONS/CERTIFICATES OF THE QC/HACCP PERSONNEL TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY AND RELEASE A WHITE PAPER ON THE SUBJECT .

    NOW, WITHIN A SPAN OF 2 WEEKS TIME WE ARE SEEING 2 VERY SERIOUS BEEF RECALL ONE RELATED TO E COLI 0157H7 AND THE OTHER ON SALMONELLA NOW ON 8TH APRIL,2012. SOUTH AFRICA IS AGAIN THREATENING TO MOVE THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION IMPLICATING CANADIAN PORK SAFETY AND THE TRADE MATTERS ASSOCIATED WITH IT

    YOU CAN NOT RUN A HOSPITAL WITHOUT A DOCTOR SO ALSO YOU CAN NOT RUN A FOOD COMPANY PROFESSIONALLY WITHOUT A FOOD-DOCTOR(QUALIFIED PEOPLE WITH FOOD SCIENCE/FOOD TECHNOLOGY/FOOD SAFETY KNOWLEDGE AT COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY LEVEL) The cop when stop a speeding vehicle first ask his/her driving licence. The food safety cop when inspect/audit an erring food processing establishment never ask if he/she/they is/are qualified enough to become the food safety driver of that erring food processing establishment since nowhere in the Food Safety Enhancement Program(FSEP) or, in the Compliance Verification System(CVS) or, the the Food and Drugs Act of Canada or, in the Meat Inspection Act (in case of Canadian jurisdiction)it is clearly mentioned what should be minimum qualifications required to become the food safety drivers (HACCP Co-ordinator, HACCP Monitor, Food Safety Officer, Safety Quality Food Technician etc.)of a Food/Meat Processing Establishment. You cannot run a hospital without a Doctor. Similarly, you can never run a food processing establishment professionally without a food-doctor or a food safety driver having food science/food technology/food safety with college/university diploma/degree competence. According to me, majorly , food science / meat science illiterates are running the show of food safety in our food/meat processing factories under bizarre food safety culture fine-tuned by the owners of the food/meat processing factories who employ food science/food technology/food safety illiterates without any formal education in the aforesaid field of study merely because they are widely available @ $ 12 per hour basis (you will observe many such in the Canadian job bank advertisement)and thus vilify the very foundation of the morality of the food safety culture of the food/meat processing factories which is highly antagonistic and dangerous from the public health and safety viewpoint of great importance. Food/Meat industry owners never understand the simple fact to run their factories professionally they need competent people who are not available at that cheap price of @$12 per hour. It becomes totally “A penny wise pound foolish policy hastily and allegedly being implemented by majority of the food/meat processing factories especially when the situation of recall becomes very imminant to protect the public health and safety and mostly the erring food/meat establishment in question goes into bankruptcy.(One typical such most recent example : QUOTE , Toronto Star 17th March, 2012 “ E. coli beef recall from bankrupt company expands to include seven months’ worth of products”at Web-ref:http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1148088–e-coli-beef-recall-from-bankrupt-company-expands-to-include-seven-months-worth-of-products)

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