E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Canada

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is alerting Canadians to an outbreak of fourteen cases of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses linked to consumption of Hankook brand kimchi products.

As of today, outbreak cases have been confirmed in Alberta (13) and Saskatchewan (1).

The first case was reported during the week of December 5, 2021, and the most recent case during the week of January 2, 2022.

Hankook Original Kimchi, 1670 g - UnitThe Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) issued a recall warning for the following product on January 28, 2022.

  • Hankook (Korean characters only) brand Original Kimchi, 1670g. UPC 6 23431 00030 4. Best before 22JA29.

The recalled product was sold in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may result in the recall of additional products.

People infected with E. coli O157:H7 can develop a wide range of symptoms, which can appear between one day and ten days after consuming a contaminated food. Some do not get sick at all, though they can still spread the infection to others. Others may feel as though they have a bad case of upset stomach. In some cases, individuals become seriously ill and must be hospitalized.

Symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection may include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • mild fever
  • severe stomach cramps
  • watery or bloody diarrhea

The following advice from the PHAC applies to individuals, as well as retailers, distributors, manufacturers and food service establishments such as hotels, restaurants, cafeterias, hospitals and long-term care homes, across Canada:

  • Do not eat, use, sell or serve the recalled kimchi or any products made with the kimchi. Check to see if you have recalled food products at home. If you do, throw them out and wash your hands.
  • Clean and sanitize all surfaces and storage areas that recalled kimchi or any products made with the recalled kimchi may have come in contact with, including countertops, containers, utensils, freezers, and refrigerators.
  • If you have been diagnosed with an E. coli infection or any other gastrointestinal illness, do not cook food for other people.
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Canadian E. coli O157 outbreak linked to raw pet food

Four Canadians between the ages of 3 and 43 have beccome infected with E. coli O157 since March 2020, according to a report from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). Two of the individuals were hospitalized.

All four individuals became ill following exposure to Carnivora brand frozen raw pet food purchased at various pet stores.

There have been no reports of sick pets.

The four genetically linked outbreak cases were reported from British Columbia (1 case), Alberta (2 cases) and Manitoba (1 case).

Carnivora brand raw pet food is manufactured by Riveriene Farm Ltd. o/a Carnivora Pet Foods, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and is distributed through retailers across Canada.

Carnivora has recalled the following six items, which may be contaminated with E. coli O157.

  • Carnivora Brand Whole Animal Chicken Dinner with Vegetables ‘n’ Fruit, Ultra Premium Fresh Frozen Patties for Dogs & Cats (4 lb / 1820g bag; UPC 689076622271; Date codes 13 01 20 / 006, 15 02 20 / 042, 20 01 20 / 006 & 20 02 20 / 042)
  • Carnivora Brand Chicken Dinner with Vegetables ‘n’ Fruit (25 lb / 11.36 kg Bulk Box; UPC 689076619677; Date codes 13 01 20 / 006, 15 02 20 / 042, 20 01 20 / 006 & 20 02 20 / 042)
  • Carnivora Brand Whole Animal Beef Dinner with Vegetables ‘n’ Fruit, Ultra Premium Fresh Frozen Patties for Dogs & Cats (4 lb / 1820g Bag; UPC 689076622370; Date codes 13 01 20 / 006, 15 02 20 / 042, 20 01 20 / 006 & 20 02 20 / 042)
  • Carnivora Brand Beef Dinner with Vegetables ‘n’ Fruit (25 lb / 11.36 kg Bulk Box; UPC 689076621076; Date codes 13 01 20 / 006, 15 02 20 / 042, 20 01 20 / 006 & 20 02 20 / 042)
  • Carnivora Brand Whole Animal Turkey Diet, Ultra Premium Fresh Frozen Patties for Dogs & Cats (4 lb / 1820g Bag; UPC 689076623971; Date codes 13 01 20 / 006, 15 02 20 / 042, 20 01 20 / 006 & 20 02 20 / 042)
  • Carnivora Brand Turkey Diet (25 lb / 11.36 kg Bulk Box; UPC 689076624800; Date codes 13 01 20 / 006, 15 02 20 / 042, 20 01 20 / 006 & 20 02 20 / 042)

The approximately 1803 recalled units were sold in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and may also have been distributed elsewhere in Canada.

Pet foods manufactured for export to the USA, the European Union and other countries must be accompanied by an export certificate certifying compliance with the requirements of the destination country. Likewise, pet foods imported into Canada must be accompanied by a government certificate attesting to the safety of the products.

Yet pet foods manufactured in Canada purely for domestic consumption fall into a regulatory No Man’s Land and are not subject to ANY requirements under either the Health of Animals Act or the Food and Drugs Act.

PHAC offers the following information and advice for consumers:

  • If you have the affected product, do not feed it to your pet. Consumers should immediately stop using any of the affected pet food products and contact the retailer where they purchased the affected product for a full refund or exchange.
  • Wash and sanitize any containers, utensils and surfaces that the raw foods touched before using them again. This includes countertops, microwaves and refrigerators.
  • Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after feeding, handling or cleaning up after pets. Animals fed raw meat diets are more likely to be shedding harmful bacteria like Salmonella and dangerous strains of E. coli even when they appear healthy, compared to those fed commercial kibble or other cooked diets. Regularly clean surfaces that come into contact with pet food or pets.
  • When possible, store all pet food and treats away from where human food is stored or prepared and away from reach of young children.
  • If you suspect you have become ill after being exposed to frozen raw pet food, or pets fed these diets, and have symptoms consistent with E. coli O157 infection, talk with your health care provider.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada does not recommend feeding raw pet food to pets, especially in households with young children, or individuals who have conditions that compromise their immune system that put them at greater risk for more serious illness. However, if you choose to feed your pet a raw food diet, it is recommended that you buy from companies that use meat-derived ingredients that have been prepared in sanitary conditions and passed inspection for human consumption. Also look for companies that have a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points protocol in place, which sets safety standards and practices, and helps to greatly reduce the risk of bacterial contamination.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency does not post recalls of either domestic or imported pet foods. Pet food recalls, if they are reported at all on a Government of Canada come under the heading of a Consumer Product.

It is only when a pet food has been linked to human illnesses or to widespread – and usually international – pet illnesses that Canadians learn about a contamination issue. 

Bison meat from Canada blamed for US outbreak of E. coli illnesses

Ground meat supplied as Bison Burgers and/or Buffalo Burgers is responsible for 21 cases of shigatoxin-producing E. coli infections in seven US states according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The outbreak includes infections due to two different serotypes of shigatoxin-producting E. coli. Six of the victims were infected with E. coli O103, 13 with E. coli O121. Two victims were infected with both outbreak strains.

Eight individuals have been hospitalized. No cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) have been reported.

Confirmed cases are reported in Connecticut (1), Florida (4), Michigan (1), Missouri (1), New Jersey (2), New York (9), and Pennsylvania (3).

The source of the outbreak has been traced through epidemiology and traceback activities to ground bison meat supplied by Northfork Bison Distributions Inc. of St.-Léonard, Québec (Canada).

The company is recalling its ground bison, referred to as Bison Ground, and its ground bison patties, referred to as Bison Burgers and/or Buffalo Burgers, produced between February 22 and April 30, 2019, according to the US Food and Drug Adminsitration (FDA).

Recalled ground bison was sold to distributors as ground bison and bison patties, referred to as Bison Burgers and/or Buffalo Burgers. Recalled ground bison was also sold to retailers in 4-ounce burger patties.

The bison patties were sold to retailers in 4 x 4-ounce blue boxes under the Northfork Bison label with expiration dates up to October 8, 2020.

A formal recall notice has not been posted on the FDA website as of this evening.

Northfork also has initiated a recall of several products distributed across Canada, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), including:

  • Natural Frontier Foods brand Bison – ground meat (280g; UPC 6 76842 00147 7; Expiry codes EXP 190311, EXP 190314, EXP 190315, EXP 190316, EXP 190317, EXP 190318)
  • Sensations brand Extra Lean Ground Bison (280g; UPC 6 23682 11159 0; Expiry codes EXP 190311, EXP 190314, EXP 190315, EXP 190316, EXP 190317, EXP 190318)
  • La Terre des Bisons brand Bison ground (lean) (1.5 lb; UPC 96768420002598; Packed on 19-02-22, 19-02-25, 19-02-26, 19-02-27, 19-02-28, 19-03-01)
  • Northfork Canadian Bison Ranch brand Bison ground regular (1.25 kg; UPC 86768420002577; Packed on 19-02-22, 19-02-25, 19-02-26, 19-02-27, 19-02-28, 19-03-01)
  • Northfork Canadian Bison Ranch brand Bison ground regular (4.54 kg /10 lb; UPC 86768420002263; Packed on 19-02-22, 19-02-25, 19-02-26, 19-02-27, 19-02-28, 19-03-01)
  • Northfork Canadian Bison Ranch brand Bison ground 10 lbs regular (10 lb; UPC 96768420111061; Packed on 19-02-22, 19-02-25, 19-02-26, 19-02-27, 19-02-28, 19-03-01)
  • Northfork Canadian Bison Ranch brand Bison ground 1 lb regular (0.45 kg / 1 lb; UPC 96768420111054; Packed on 19-02-22, 19-02-25, 19-02-26, 19-02-27, 19-02-28, 19-03-01)
  • Northfork Canadian Bison Ranch brand Bison Burger 20 x 8oz (2 lb; UPC 96768420111092; Packed on 19-02-22, 19-02-25, 19-02-26, 19-02-27, 19-02-28, 19-03-01)
  • Northfork Canadian Bison Ranch brand Bison Burger 4oz x 4 (1 lb; UPC 96768420111184; Packed on 19-02-22, 19-02-25, 19-02-26, 19-02-27, 19-02-28, 19-03-01)

There have been no reported illnesses in Canada associated with the recalled items.

CDC offers the following advice to consumers, restaurants, and retailers

  • Consumers should not eat, and restaurants and retailers should not sell or serve, recalled ground bison products.
  • Consumers who have recalled ground bison burger patties in their home should not eat them. Throw them away or return them to the store for a refund. Even if some of the recalled patties have been eaten and no one got sick, do not eat them.
    • Wash and sanitize places where recalled ground bison products were stored: countertops and refrigerator drawers or shelves. Follow these five steps to clean your refrigerator.
    • When ordering at a restaurant, ask that ground bison burgers be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160°F.
  • Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell recalled ground bison and should check freezers and storage for recalled products. Restaurants and retailers should check with their supplier to determine if their ground bison has been recalled.