Beef recall expands as officials confirm 10 sickened by E.coli
Published Sunday, October 7, 2012 10:23AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, October 7, 2012 10:08PM EDT
Another 24 items have been added to the growing list of beef products being recalled by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency after E.coli was detected at Alberta meat-processing plant XL Foods Inc.
The federal agency updated its list of beef products that could contain the E.coli bacteria on Sunday. The newly added items are sold at three British Columbia retailers – wholesaler Out of Africa Trading Ltd. and grocers Hanahreum Mart and Urban Fare.
More than 1,500 items have already been placed on the recall list since the contamination was first detected on Sept. 5, resulting in the largest beef recall in Canadian history.
The lengthy list recently expanded to include products such as steaks, lean ground beef, roasts, sausages and oxtail. Stores throughout Canada have been identified by the CFIA as sellers of the recalled products, including major grocers such as Superstore, Sobeys, No Frills, Quality Foods, Metro and Walmart.
However, the CFIA warned that the recall also includes unlabelled and unbranded beef products that are not identified on the agency’s website. The agency noted that these products are typically sold at smaller retailers, local meat markets and butcher shops.
Also Sunday, officials with the U.S. Food Safety Inspection Service tripled the estimated amount of recalled beef that was imported from XL.
The agency released a statement noting that more than 1.1 million kilograms of potentially contaminated beef had entered the U.S.
The estimate was far greater than what was originally estimated by the agency on Sept, 28, when it stated that 404,000 kilograms of the affected beef had crossed the border.
Meanwhile, the Public Health Agency of Canada linked five more illnesses to the strain of E. coli detected at the Brooks, Alta. facility, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 10.
Most of the E.coli illnesses have occurred in Alberta, with two others in Quebec and one in Newfoundland.
Edmonton father Mike Lees said his five-year-old son Elijah became sick after eating tainted steak.
The illness was discovered after Elijah’s mother noticed blood in the boy’s stool, Lees told CTV’s Question Period in an interview broadcast Sunday. Soon after, Elijah experienced stomach cramps that brought him to his knees.
“I just felt the stomach cramps coming first. I didn’t know there was such thing as a bug called E.coli,” Elijah recalled in the interview from Edmonton.
Officials with the Public Health Agency said the particular strain of E.coli found at XL Foods -- E.coli O157 -- had not been detected in Canada or the United States prior to the XL Foods discovery.
Frank Plummer, the agency’s chief science officer, said Saturday that the strain related to the XL Foods situation bears a specific “genetic fingerprint.”
The agency did not comment on any suspected illnesses, as that number continues to fluctuate.
When Lees’ son Elijah grew ill, the beef recall only applied to ground beef products.
It took the family several days before they discovered that tainted steak had caused Elijah’s illness, Lees said. He added that his wife then contacted Alberta Health Services.
Since then, the family has decided to join a class-action lawsuit against XL Foods. Lees said he feels that it’s a way to hold someone accountable for the illnesses.
"Ultimately, human health needs to be put ahead of the dollar. You expect to be able to buy a good steak off the shelf and not get sick from it,” Lees told Question Period.
The recall is the largest in Canadian history. Its scope has placed the Canadian Food Inspection Agency under renewed scrutiny.