The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health says it's looking into an unusually high number of E. coli cases to figure out if they are related to the meat recall from a processing plant in Alberta.

The ministry said 13 people were sick from E. coli in September, while the average number of cases ranges between zero and four.

Of the 13 cases, seven people were from Saskatoon, three were from Regina, two were from the Sun Country Health Region and one relates to a person who travelled from out of province.

Later on Tuesday, an official from the health district in Regina said a restaurant in that city had voluntarily closed after it was discovered that five of the 13 cases had a common element: those five people who became sick had eaten at the restaurant in Regina. 

Also, three of the cases involved children under the age of five. In most cases, symptoms usually resolve without further complications. However, sickness related to E. coli can lead to kidney failure and death.

The Saskatchewan cases are being investigated to figure out if they are linked to the recall from  XL Foods plant that has been expanded to include hundreds of products, said the ministry. Results should be available within the next few days.

"People can reduce their risk of E.coli infection by taking very simple, common sense steps," Dr. Saqib Shahab,  chief medical health officer said. "Consumers should be vigilant about thorough hand washing when handling or preparing food, and ensure that all meat is cooked thoroughly."

Here are some of the symptoms of E. coli infection :

  • severe abdominal pain
  • watery or bloody diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • headaches, but little or no fever

Symptoms usually appear within three or four days, but can occur up to 10 days later and can last for five to 10 days.

People that are most at risk are: pregnant women, young children, elderly people and those with weakened immune systems. 

Restaurant meals as well as meals cooked at home could be potentially contaminated with E. coli if food is not handled safely, said Shahab.

Meat Recall Information

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has once again expanded the recall list of meat products from a processing plant in Alberta because of possible E. coli contamination.

The agency has now recalled more than 1,500 beef products from XL Foods meat processing plant in Brooks, Alta.

The expanded list now includes cuts of steaks and roasts, stewing beef and breakfast sausage Canada wide.

The products that may be contaminated were manufactured at the XL Foods plant on August 24, 27, 28, 29 and September 5.

According to the CFIA some recalled meats include unlabelled or unbranded beef products that may be sold at smaller retailers, local meat market and butcher shops.

People are being advised to check with stores or throw products out if they are unsure if the meat they have could be contaminated.

CFIA has confirmed four people have been ill from E. coli related to the recall. 

Saskatchewan stores related to the recall include:

  • Extra Foods
  • No Frills
  • Real Canadian Wholesale Club Shop Easy
  • SuperValu
  • Real Canadian Superstore
  • Westfair
  • Your Independent Grocer
  • Big Way
  • Walmart
  • Brooks Meat Packers
  • Butchers Cut
  • CO-OP
  • Giant Tiger
  • Prairie Meats
  • Safeway
  • Sobeys/IGA
  • Westfair