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.

 

E. coli outbreak strain in several flour brands from Ardent Mills


The Public Health Agency of Canada has confirmed 27 cases of E. coli O121 infections across five Canadian provinces since November 2016 that have been linked to flour produced by Ardent Mills Canada. A 28th victim was a visitor to the country.

Seven of the outbreak victims were hospitalized, but are recovering. No deaths have been reported in relation to the outbreak.

E. coli O121 is a Shiga toxin-producing strain of E. coli. In recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it has been responsible for outbreaks associated with flour, frozen foods and raw clover sprouts.

Provinces reporting illnesses and the number of cases in each are:

  • British Columbia, 12;
  • Saskatchewan 4;
  • Alberta 5;
  • Ontario 1; and
  • Newfoundland and Labrador 5.

The country of origin of the affected visitor was not released. The 14 male and 14 female victims range in age from 8 years to 79 years, with an average of 24 years.

These are three of the recalled flour products. To read the most recent consolidated list of recalled products, please click on the image.

On March 28 the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), in concert with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), informed the public that “Original Robin Hood All Purpose Flour” was confirmed to be contaminated with the outbreak strain of E. coli O121.

Smucker Foods of Canada Corp. recalled an undisclosed amount of the Robin Hood branded flour on March 28. Robin Hood has been a member of the Smucker family of brands in Canada since 2004. Consumers and others can identify the recalled 10-kilogram bags of flour by looking for the following label information:

  • UPC number 0 59000 01652 8; and
  • Product code containing BB/MA 2018 AL 17 and 6 291 548

Ardent Mills Canada is the manufacturer of Robin Hood Flour. In a statement released April 16, the company acknowledged that it was “… aware of one illness associated with the consumption of flour,” but emphasized that no illnesses were linked to the additional products included in subsequent recall notices.

The additional recalls are a result either of the detection of E. coli O121 in a sample of the production lot or a determination that the product was manufactured using the same source material as a product that tested positive for E. coli O121, according to CFIA.

“One specific product has been directly linked to a case of illness,” a CFIA spokesperson told Food Safety News. “Other products with specific production dates, while not linked to specific cases of illness, have been analyzed by our laboratory and found to contain the same type of E. coli that is of concern in the outbreak.”

So far, CFIA has not carried out environmental sampling in the production facility, but has focussed of sampling flour products on the market.

The genetic pattern of the Canadian outbreak strain is unrelated to the strain of E. coli O121 that was responsible for an outbreak of more that 60 illnesses in the U.S. in 2016. That outbreak was traced to flour produced by a General Mills facility in Kansas City, MO.

All of the recalled Ardent Mills products were manufactured in one facility, during a three week period from Oct.14 to Nov.3, 2016.

Some of the products were distributed to retailers, including Costco Canada, while others were supplied to hotels, restaurants, and institutional customers. Additional brand names of the recalled flour include: Arrezzio, BakerSource, Brodie, Creative Baker, GFS, Golden Temple, Great Canadian Bagel, Kitchen Essentials, Robin Hood, and Sunspun.

A consolidated list of recalled products is available at eFoodAlert.

What consumers need to know
Symptoms of infection with shiga-toxin producing strains of E. coli, including E. coli O121, usually appear from one to 10 days following initial infection, and may include severe stomach cramps, watery or bloody diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and headache. Typically, there is little or no fever.

Some individuals develop no symptoms whatsoever, while others can become severely ill and require hospitalization. Those at greatest risk of developing serious complications are pregnant women, individuals with compromised immune systems, young children and older adults.
The PHAC advises consumers to check their homes to see if they have any of the contaminated flour and take the following precautions if they have it. If you have any of the recalled products in your home or place of business:

  • Do not use or eat recalled flour or flour products. If you have a recalled flour product in your home, secure the recalled product in a plastic bag and throw it out or return it to the store where it was purchased for a refund.
  • If you have flour without its original packaging and are unsure if it is included in the food recall, throw it out just to be safe.
  • Thoroughly wash any containers that were used to store the recalled product before using them again.
  • If you suspect you may have used recalled flour to make baked goods or a non-baked product, such as children’s play-dough, throw it out. Wash all surfaces or containers where the product may have been used or stored.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water immediately following any contact with the recalled product.
  • Do not taste raw dough, batter or any other product containing uncooked flour. Eating a small amount could make you sick.
  • Bake or cook items made with raw dough or batter before eating them.
  • Always use hot water and soap to wash any bowls, utensils, or surfaces that flour was used on.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water immediately after touching flour, raw dough or batter.
  • Contact your healthcare provider if you think you have become ill from eating raw dough or batter or from consuming or handling a flour product and tell them about the possible exposure to pathogens so the proper diagnostic tests can be done.

This story first appeared in Food Safety News and is reposted here with permission.

Canadian E. coli Outbreak Traced to Robin Hood Flour


Canadians are being warned today not to use or eat Robin Hood brand All Purpose Flour, Original (10 kg; Lot codes containing BB/MA 2018 AL 17 and 6 291 548; UPC 0 59000 01652 8), as these products may be contaminated with E. coli O121.

Smucker Foods of Canada Corp. initiated a recall after the product was linked to an outbreak of E. coli O121 that has sickened 25 people since mid-November 2016. All 25 outbreak victims were infected with the same genetic strain of E. coli O121. The recalled product was sold in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Six individuals were hospitalized; all six either have recovered or are recovering from their illnesses. The youngest victim was eight years old, and the eldest was 79. Fourteen men and 11 women are among the 25 victims. There have been no deaths.

Cases were reported in British Columbia (12), Saskatchewan (4), Alberta (4) and Newfoundland and Labrador (5). The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) advises that their ongoing investigation may lead to additional product recalls.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and CFIA remind consumers that it is not safe to taste or eat raw dough or batter, regardless of the type of flour used, as raw flour can be contaminated with harmful bacteria such as E.coli.

Symptoms of E. coli infection can include severe stomach cramps, watery or bloody diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and headache, and last 5-10 days in most cases. Typically, there is little or no fever.

PHAC urges the public to take the following precautions:

  • Do not use or eat recalled Robin Hood All Purpose Flour, Original. Secure the recalled product in a plastic bag and throw it out or return it to the store where it was purchased for a refund.
  • If you have flour without its original packaging and are unsure if it is included in the food recall, throw it out just to be safe.
  • Thoroughly wash any containers that were used to store the recalled product before using them again.
  • If you suspect you may have used recalled flour to make baked goods or a non-baked product, such as children’s play-dough, throw it out. Wash all surfaces or containers where the product may have been used or stored.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water immediately following any contact with the recalled product.