New E. coli O121 outbreak in Canada sickens six

Six residents of British Columbia were infected with E. coli O121 between February and April 2017, according to a report issued last Friday by the BC Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC).

Lab tests on a sample of flour recovered from the home of one of the victims revealed the presence of a strain of E. coli O121 that was genetically identical to the strain found in the six outbreak victims. Neither the flour nor the microbe are a match to the nationwide outbreak of E. coli O121 illnesses that has been simmering in Canada since last fall.

The flour suspected of being behind the most recent outbreak was identified by BC CDC as “Rogers all-purpose flour in a 10kg bag with the lot number MFD 17 Jan 19 C” and was sold in Costco stores beginning in January 2017.

According to the Company’s website, Rogers Foods Ltd. mills its own flour in two locations: Armstrong and Chilliwack, BC. Its products are distributed across Western Canada and into Ontario.

In a statement posted on May 20th on its website, Rogers Foods Ltd. acknowledged the positive test result, while emphasizing that the microbe was found in a bag of flour that had already been opened. The Company also indicated that the production lot from which the E. coli O121 had been recovered was sold exclusively in Costco Wholesale stores in British Columbia.

According to a spokesperson for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the BC CDC has formed a BC Outbreak Investigation Coordinating Committee. CFIA is participating in the investigation by carrying out an inspection of the manufacturing facility, while also conducting tests of flour samples drawn from the production date corresponding to the postive sample reported by the BC CDC.

As of this evening, no formal product recall has been announced. Nevertheless, BC CDC is recommending that consumers dispose of Rogers All-Purpose Flour (10kg bag; Lot #MFD 17 Jan 19 C) as a precaution.