E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak In Canada – Again!

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is warning the public not to consume certain frozen beef burgers, due to a risk of E. coli O157:H7 contamination after finding E. coli O157:H7 in products tested as part of an “ongoing outbreak investigation.” The Public Health Agency of Canada has not yet released any information about this new outbreak.

Canada Safeway Limited has recalled the following products, which were distributed in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and Northwest Territories:

  • The Gourmet Meat Shoppe Big & Juicy Burger (1.13 kg: UPC 0 58200 10650 3; Best before 2013 AU 14 EST 752)
  • The Gourmet Meat Shoppe Prime Rib Burger (907g; UPC 0 58200 10733 3; Best before 2013 AU 14 EST 752)
  • The Butcher’s Cut Pure Beef Patties, 10 Patties (1.13 kg; UPC 0 58200 21604 2; Best before 2013 AU 14 EST 752)
  • The Butcher’s Cut Pure Beef Patties, 20 Patties (2.27 kg; UPC 0 58200 21592 2; Best before 2013 AU 14 EST 752)
  • The Butcher’s Cut Pure Beef Patties, 40 Patties (4.45 kg; UPC 0 58200 21594 6; Best before 2013 AU 14 EST 752)

All of the above-listed products originated from Cardinal Meat Specialists Limited (Establishment 752. 155 Hedgedale Road, Brampton, Ontario). This is the same establishment that was linked to a 5-case outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in December 2012. The same establishment that was investigated ‘extensively’ – and fruitlessly – by CFIA in December 2012.

The detailed report promised in its final investigation update, posted on December 24th, has not yet been released to the public. Perhaps it’s just as well; that ‘final’ report would have been premature.

At this stage of the investigation, all we have are questions:

  1. How large is this outbreak? How many patients? Which provinces?
  2. Is this the same genetic strain of E. coli O157:H7 that was responsible for the December 2012 outbreak?
  3. Has production been suspended at the Cardinal Meat facility? If not, why not?
  4. What does CFIA plan to do this time to improve on its December 2012 performance?

This is the third meat-related E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Canada in less than one year. What is the federal government doing to prevent E. coli O157:H7 from spiraling out of control in Canadian beef?

Recalls and Alerts: January 25, 2013

Here is today’s list of food safety recalls, product withdrawals, allergy alerts and miscellaneous compliance issues. The live links will take you directly to the official recall notices and company news releases that contain detailed information for each recall and alert.

If you would like to receive automatic email alerts for all new articles posted on eFoodAlert, please submit your request using the sidebar link.

United States

  • Allergy Alert Update: USDA releases retail distribution list for Applegate® Naturals Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets (8-oz cartons), recalled by King’s Delight due to undeclared wheat.
  • Food Safety Recall/Outbreak Alert: Stallings Head Cheese Co., Inc. recalls Richard’s Hog Head Cheese (10-oz pkg; Est #2257; Use by 2 1 2013 or 3 20 2013; Produced November 1, 2012 and December 19, 2012 respectively), after hog head cheese from this establishment were linked to a recent cluster of six Salmonella Uganda illnesses in Louisiana. Illness onset dates ranged from october 16, 2012 to November 10, 2012; four patients confirmed having eaten this brand of head cheese. Four of nine retail samples from different production dates have tested positive for Salmonella; however, tests to determine whether the outbreak strain of Salmonella Uganda was recovered from the retail samples are not yet complete. The recalled products were shipped to a distribution center for retail distribution in Louisiana and Southeastern Texas, and were sold at Brookshire’s food and pharmacy and Super1Foods & Discount Pharmacy . USDA has not yet released a retail distribution list for this recall.
  • Food Safety Recall/Outbreak Alert: Jouni Meats, Inc. (Sterling Heights, MI) recalls various size packages of ground beef (Produced between Dec 4, 2012 and Dec 9, 2012), after consumption of ground beef from Joumi Meats and Gab Halal Foods was linked to an outbreak of  16 Salmonella Typhimurium illnesses in Arizona (1), Illinois (2), Iowa (1), Michigan (9) and Wisconsin (3). Illness onset dates ranged from December 9, 2012 to January 7, 2013. Seven of the outbreak victims reported having eaten a raw ground beef dish at the same restaurant before becoming ill. The restaurant had acquired the raw beef from Joumi Meats and Gab Halal Foods.
  • Food Safety Recall/Outbreak Alert: Gab Halal Foods (Troy, MI) recalls various size packages of ground beef (Produced between Dec 4, 2012 and Dec 9, 2012), after consumption of ground beef from Joumi Meats and Gab Halal Foods was linked to an outbreak of  16 Salmonella Typhimurium illnesses in Arizona (1), Illinois (2), Iowa (1), Michigan (9) and Wisconsin (3). Illness onset dates ranged from December 9, 2012 to January 7, 2013. Seven of the outbreak victims reported having eaten a raw ground beef dish at the same restaurant before becoming ill. The restaurant had acquired the raw beef from Joumi Meats and Gab Halal Foods.
  • Food Safety Recall Update: The California Department of Public Health releases a state-wide list of retailers that were supplied with Hunt’s Tomato Sauce (Regular and No Salt Added), recalled by ConAgra Foods due to a defective inner can lining.
  • Personal Care Product Recall: The Procter & Gamble Company recalls Crest 3D White Arctic Fresh Rinse (946 ml; Lot 22155395RF; UPC 37000-84023), due to a cloudy appearance, according to information posted by Haggen Northwest Fresh and TOP Food and Drug.
  • Food Safety Enforcement Action: FDA and Jonlly Fruits, Inc. (Puerto Rico) enter into consent decree of permanent injunction prohibiting distribution of fruit and juice products sold under Jonlly’s own label, as well as “Natural Tropic,” “Selectos,” and several other private-label brands. Under the decree, Jonlly agrees to cease all operations until they comply with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, including Current Good Manufacturing Practices and the juice HACCP regulations.
  • Pet Treat Safety Withdrawal: The Hartz Mountain Corporation withdraws Hartz® Chicken Chews™ and Hartz® Oinkies® Pig Skin Twists wrapped with Chicken, because the dog treats contain trace amounts of an unapproved antibiotic residue.

Canada

  • Allergy Alert: King’s Processing Ltd. recalls a variety of Subs, Wraps and Sandwiches sold under the Savoury Express and Sub Delicious brands, in addition to an unbranded 5-pack Value Sub (various package sizes and Best before dates), due to undeclared mustard. Please refer to the recall notice for a detailed list of affected products. The recalled products were supplied to retailers in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Europe

  • Allergy Alert (Ireland): The Health Store recalls various products sold from The Health Store shops and other health food stores, due to undeclared milk and/or sulphites. Please refer to the Food Allergen Alert for a complete list of affected products and Best before dates.
  • Food Safety Recall (Germany): Hainich Konserven GmbH recalls Hainich Cherry Preserves (370 mL; Best before 17.07.2015), after receiving a consumer complaint regarding glass fragments.
  • Food Safety Recall (Switzerland): Migros Zurich recalls Gorgonzola Cremoso oro (approx. 250g; Article No. 2125.838.220.00), Gorgonzola Cremoso oro (approx. 250g; Article No. 2125.848.260.00), Gorgonzola Mascarpone Cremoso oro (approx. 250g; Article No. 2125.820.000.00) Gorgonzola Dolce, sold at cheese stalls (Article No. 2125.840.065.00) Gorgonzola Piccante, sold at cheese stalls (Article No. 2125.839.065), and Gorgonzola Mascarpone, sold at cheese stalls (Article No. 2125.818.025), after Listeria was found in two types of gorgonzola. The recalled cheeses were sold at Migros Zurich: Zurich canton, Glaris canton, and several points of sale in Saint-Gall canton.
  • Contact Lens Safety Recall (Spain): Johnson & Johnson Medical Iberia recalls 1-DAY ACUVUE® MOIST® contact lenses (Lot 2054895620) and ACUVUE® ADVANCE® WITH HYDRACLEAR contact lenses (Lot B00DJPQ), due to the possibility of an incomplete seal, which could compromise the sterility of the contact lenses.

Australia and New Zealand

  • Outbreak Alert Update (Australia): Three additional cases of listeriosis have been reported in New South Wales among people who consumed soft cheeses recalled by Jindi Cheese Company. The new cases bring the total number of cases to 21, nationwide. A woman in New South Wales miscarried after contracting listeriosis, and two deaths have been reported in other states among those affected by the outbreak.

Some supermarket chains post recall notices on their web sites for the convenience of customers. To see whether a recalled food was carried by your favorite supermarket, follow the live link to the supermarket’s recall website.

*The Kroger umbrella encompasses numerous supermarket, marketplace and convenience store chains, listed on the Kroger corporate home page.
**Includes Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Carrs and Pak N’ Save.

Guest Blog: In Defense of Food Safety Leadership

The following Guest Blog first appeared on Food Safety News, and is reproduced here with the kind permission of its author, Nancy Donley.

In Defense of Food Safety Leadership

by Nancy Donley

My only child, Alex, died from hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) caused by eating E. coli O157:H7-contaminated ground beef back in 1993 when he was only 6 years old. It was the most horrendous experience possible.

His first symptoms were severe abdominal cramping and bowel movements that consisted strictly of blood and mucus. Alex suffered terribly as his organs shut down one by one. At one point one of his lungs collapsed, requiring bedside surgery. His brain swelled so horribly that shunts were drilled into his head in an effort to relieve the pressure, but to no avail.

My brave little boy’s last words to me before slipping into a coma were, “Don’t cry, Mommy” as I couldn’t stop the tears from silently flowing. His last gesture to his dad was to blow him a kiss. I was with him when he suffered a grand mal seizure and was put on a ventilator. My little boy, my only child, was dead.

Alex had wanted to be a paramedic when he grew up so that he “could help others” — his words. So when he died we hoped to be able to donate his organs so that he could fulfill that wish of helping others, but his organs were unsalvageable because of the damage caused by the E. coli toxins.

There was no cure for this awful disease then and there still isn’t today. Doctors can only hope to support bodily systems until the toxins pass through. It is for this reason that it is critically important for meat and poultry companies to put into place prevention strategies and technologies to ensure that contaminated meat doesn’t make its way into the marketplace.  That’s why we need to support innovations and advances that enhance food safety.

After Alex’s death, I felt compelled — really more like obligated — to fulfill his wish of helping and protecting other consumers by being his voice and working with federal regulating agencies and with companies to see to it that we did a better job as a country in generating a safer food supply. In the process, I have visited numerous meat and poultry plants, have provided input on public policies and food safety laws, and have served on the National Advisory Board for Meat and Poultry Inspection.

One of the many plants I visited was Beef Products, Inc. I got to know the owners, Eldon and Regina Roth, and was impressed by their complete commitment to the safety and wholesomeness of the meat products they produced. I was also impressed by the food safety culture they instilled throughout their company. We shed tears together over what happened to Alex and realized how we share the common goal of preventing illness and death from foodborne pathogens. Ever since that moment, BPI has generously supported STOP and has never asked for anything in return.

That said, one point that needs to be perfectly clear is this:  After what I personally experienced watching my son suffer and die, I am very skeptical and cynical about for-profit meat companies and their professed commitment to food safety. Not all companies “walk their talk.” BPI does.

There has been a lot of misinformation swirling around the Internet and on TV about lean beef trim produced by Beef Products, Inc.  As I stated earlier, I have personally visited their plant and the categorization of calling their product “pink slime” is completely false and incendiary.  Consumers need to understand that this product is meat, period, and that the use of ammonia hydroxide in minute amounts during processing improves the safety of the product and is routinely used throughout the food industry. There are many types of interventions including food-grade antimicrobial sprays which are used on all manner of foods.  Some of these things may sound icky and gross, especially when inaccurately portrayed.  These interventions are necessary in ridding meat of deadly pathogens and are required to prove they pose no threats to consumers. Companies would be prohibited by the USDA and FDA to use substances that could be harmful in human consumption.

I am very concerned that mis-categorization campaigns such as this “pink slime” campaign will cause well-intentioned companies such as BPI to cease innovations for developing better food safety technologies and strategies. Why try to do something better only to get set up as a target?  If this does in fact happen, and promising technologies get thwarted, we, the American public, will be the losers.  And tragedies like Alex will continue to go on and on and on.

About the author: Nancy Donley is recognized as a leading proponent of improvement in both government and private food safety efforts since the death of her six-year old son Alex in 1993 from consumption of E. coli O157:H7-contaminated ground beef. Alex was her and her husband Tom’s only child. Nancy works in a volunteer capacity for STOP Foodborne Illness and has served as its president for over 10 years. She has done extensive advocacy work on behalf of the organization and has been featured in numerous magazine articles, newspaper articles and television interviews in efforts to increase awareness about the risks of foodborne illness. Nancy serves on the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection. She has received numerous awards for her advocacy efforts.