E. coli linked to raw pork products responsible for 100 Albertans getting ill
Dr. James Talbot says it's the largest E. coli outbreak in Alberta in 15 years
- Late Friday, the CFIA reported that another Edmonton company is recalling pork products
- Vinh Fat Food Products has recalled some frozen pork spring rolls, pork buns and pork wontons
Alberta's chief medical officer of health says 100 people in the province have gotten ill from E. coli linked to raw pork products, including 19 people who have been hospitalized.
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- IN DEPTH | Understanding E. coli: symptoms, spread, prevention
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has ordered a recall of pork products from V & T Meat and Food in Calgary and Hiep Thanh Trading in Edmonton over concerns they may contain E. coli 0157:H7.
There have been, fortunately, no deaths.- Dr. James Talbot
Dr. James Talbot said the two companies — one a grocery store and the other a meat processor that distributes to restaurants — have been shut down.
Late Friday, the CFIA reported that Vinh Fat Food Products of Edmonton had recalled its frozen pork spring rolls, pork buns and pork wontons due to possible E. coli contamination. A spokeswoman for the company said it was a voluntary recall.
"From July 15 to Sept. 4 in this province there have been 153 cases of E. coli. One hundred of them have been associated ... to be part of this outbreak and linked to raw pork products," he said Friday.
"Nineteen people have been hospitalized to date. There have been, fortunately, no deaths."
Talbot said most people affected by this E. coli strain get diarrhea and are knocked off their feet, but others can suffer more serious problems such as kidney problems or kidney failure.
He said the 100 cases have been linked either directly or indirectly to the companies. The results of more tests are expected Monday.
"We don't require absolute proof before we go in and act to make sure that public safety is protected," he said.
Talbot said Alberta Health Services and the CFIA continue to investigate to determine if more products need to be recalled.
The investigation has been complicated by two factors — E. coli bacteria problems are more likely associated with beef products than pork, and the outbreak has mainly affected people from the Asian community, which posed language challenges for investigators, Talbot said.
He said it is the largest E. coli outbreak in Alberta in 15 years, when 42 cases were reported in the province.
The CFIA has designated the recall a Class 1, or high hazard recall. It says that no one should consume, serve or sell any raw pork sold between the following dates this year:
- V & T Meat and Food between July 14 and Sept. 2 inclusively.
- Hiep Thanh Trading between July 10 and Sept. 3 inclusively.
The affected products have only been distributed in Alberta. If people find the pork in their homes, they are asked to throw them out or return them to the place of purchase.
The agency warns food contaminated with this form of E. coli may not look or smelled spoiled, but could cause health problems.
E. coli precautions
The province says Albertans should continue to take precautions to protect themselves from E. coli:
- Wash your hands with hot, soapy water often, especially after using the washroom or changing diapers, before preparing food and after touching raw meat.
- Cook pork and beef to a temperature of at least 71C (160F).
- Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
- Thoroughly wash all kitchen tools and surfaces that have touched raw meat.
- Use only pasteurized milk, dairy and juice products.
- Be sure that water used for drinking or food preparation is from approved sources (including municipal water supplies or properly maintained/treated well water).
- When you travel to a country that may have unsafe drinking water, don’t use ice or drink tap water. Also, avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables, except those with skin that you peel yourself.