4 sick in Alberta after eating steaks tainted with E. coli: officials
Published Wednesday, September 26, 2012 11:38AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 26, 2012 11:27PM EDT
Alberta health officials say four people have fallen ill after eating E. coli-tainted steaks sold at an Edmonton Costco store.
The strip loin grilling steaks were sold at the 50th Street Costco under the Kirkland brand from Sept. 4 to Sept. 7.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said the steaks came from meat processed at XL Foods Inc. in Edmonton, which is involved in a nation-wide ground beef recall.
However, Alberta’s senior medical health officer Dr. Gerry Perdy said it may not be possible to pinpoint the source of the E.coli contamination because officials don’t know if the bacteria were already on the steaks when the meat was shipped to Costco, or whether a meat tenderizing machine used at the store was the culprit.
“Some of the meat that was used in that particular machine must have had E. coli on it. Whether the steaks actually had the E. coli on them or were just contaminated because the machine was contaminated -- that is something that we will probably never know for sure,” Perdy said at a news conference Wednesday.
He said samples from an uncooked steak from the Costco store were compared to a sample from one of the sick Albertans.
"The lab did confirm that not only was the steak growing E.coli, but it was the same genetic pattern as the individuals who were ill,” Perdy told reporters.
He wouldn’t say how sick the four infected people are, citing privacy concerns.
The CFIA said its investigators are also trying to figure out at which stage of production the meat was tainted.
The agency has expanded the beef recall several times since issuing its first warning about possible E. coli contamination on Sept. 16.
In the meantime, XL Food’s permit to export beef to the U.S. has been revoked at the request of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
There have been no reports in Canada of people getting sick from eating the ground beef.
The U.S. Food Safety Inspection Service also issued a public alert Wednesday about potentially tainted meat because a U.S. manufacturer used whole cuts of beef produced at XL Foods.
In a statement, XL Foods said it is working with the CFIA and Alberta health officials to find the E. coli source, “even though there has been no definitive link of illness between our products and people who have become ill.”