Investigation Into E. Coli cases In Canada

OTTAWA – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) are currently investigating possible linkages between E. coli cases that occurred earlier this summer in Canada.
calendar icon 29 October 2007
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E. COLI: the tests are out.
The investigation is examining 45 cases of E. coli O157:H7 that were found in New Brunswick, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Ontario and British Columbia. These cases were previously reported from July to September, 2007. As a result of these cases, eleven people were hospitalized and one elderly individual died.

Ongoing testing has determined that most of the cases share a unique pattern of E. coli and the cause of the illnesses has been mostly associated with ground beef. This new E. coli pattern has also been found in the United States, and we are working closely with our counterparts at the United States Department of Agriculture to share information. We greatly appreciate the USDA’s input and cooperation in this investigation.

The same unique E. coli pattern that was found in the majority of cases this summer has been found through genetic testing of samples of beef taken from a meat facility in Alberta. This facility is currently not operating. The company has contacted its primary distributors to return any affected product. All remaining product is under detention. CFIA is actively investigating this and other potential sources to determine if there is a link between this facility and the cases under investigation.

At this time, CFIA is working to ensure that there is no contaminated beef from the facility in Alberta available to consumers. If the investigation reveals that product is still on the market, a public recall will be issued.

Federal officials are also working with their counterparts in other jurisdictions and are taking all the necessary steps to protect the public. The Government remains vigilant and committed to maintaining and improving Canada’s food safety system by ensuring national and international industry standards are upheld.

Canadians are reminded that a number of simple steps should be taken when cooking with ground beef to reduce the likelihood of E. coli. Specifically, thoroughly cooking the meat and using safe handling practices can reduce the risk of illness. For more information, please refer to the following fact sheet:

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