E. coli case in N.L. linked to XL Foods
Federal officials say about 1,800 products recalled across the country
By Laura Payton, CBC News
Posted: Oct 5, 2012 4:01 PM NT
Last Updated: Oct 5, 2012 9:45 PM NT
A single case of E. coli in Newfoundland and Labrador has been linked to beef products from XL Foods, the Public Health Agency of Canada said on Friday.
"One new case of E. coli illness was confirmed to be linked to a specific strain of E. coli O157 observed in the XL Foods Inc. food safety investigation," the department's website said. "The individual has fully recovered from the illness."
According to PHAC, that brings the total number of confirmed cases of illness linked to Alberta-based XL Foods Inc. to six — five in Alberta and one in Newfoundland and Labrador.
But Alberta Health Services said there are five cases in the province, all linked to a beef steak product from an Edmonton area Costco that is linked to XL Foods Inc.
Dr. Faith Stratton, chief medical officer of health for Newfoundland and Labrador, said work is underway to determine the source.
"Hopefully we'll have removed all of the products from the shelf," Stratton said. "We can't tell what people will still have in their freezers."
Stratton confirmed that the meat was consumed in Newfoundland and Labrador.
"The person did eat in this province," she said.
Stratton declined to provide further details, including whether it was a man or a woman. The person became sick on Sept. 17, and was seen by a doctor a couple of days later. The person recovered at home, within a week.
Around 1,800 products have been recalled, a spokesman for the CFIA said Friday.
The CFIA shut down XL Foods' meat processing plant in Brooks, Alta., on Sept. 27, three weeks after tests by U.S. and Canadian officials first found E. coli in the beef.
Officials say they'd issued seven corrective action requests to the plant and were monitoring progress when they decided to shut it down.
Yesterday, XL Foods released a statement taking responsibility for the beef it produced.
It was the first statement since the number of products recalled skyrocketed, touching every province and territory, as well as 41 states.
The company has mostly refused to return calls to reporters and won't do interviews about the recall.
MPs call for more information
The recall could continue to grow as inspectors trace products from the plant to secondary and tertiary distributors, manufacturers and retailers.
Four other E. coli cases are being investigated. In Saskatchewan, health officials are looking into 13 cases of E. coli infection — a higher figure than normal — in September.
The recall has been the focus for much of the week on Parliament Hill, with opposition MPs hammering the Conservatives over funding for food safety.
NDP agriculture critic Malcolm Allen says he wants a public inquiry.
"This is the largest single beef recall in Canadian history so we really need to have a public inquiry," Allen said Friday after question period.
"It can't be one done by this government. The government failed us under this agriculture minister in this recall and making sure that the food coming out of that plant was safe. He knew things at certain points in the timeline, didn't communicate them to Canadians."
Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae has sent a letter to the auditor general asking for an audit of CFIA. Liberal agriculture critic Frank Valeriote presented a motion in the House calling for a breakdown of CFIA inspectors and where they work, but was denied the unanimous consent required to pass the motion.
XL Foods slow to provide records to inspectors
A timeline of events posted on the CFIA website shows the first positive tests for E. coli came on Sept. 4 — one in a shipment at the U.S. border and a second positive test at the XL Foods plant.
Officials thought they had contained the beef so they didn't issue a recall. They requested sampling and distribution records from XL Foods on Sept. 6, but didn't get them until Sept. 10 and 11. It was then that officials realized there could be more shipments affected.
Federal officials barred XL Foods from shipping beef to the U.S. on Sept. 13 but didn't issue a public notice in Canada until Sept. 16.With files from CBC News
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