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The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is warning the public not to consume certain frozen beef burgers, due to a risk of E. coli O157:H7 contamination after finding E. coli O157:H7 in products tested as part of an “ongoing outbreak investigation.” The Public Health Agency of Canada has not yet released any information about this new outbreak.

Canada Safeway Limited has recalled the following products, which were distributed in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and Northwest Territories:

  • The Gourmet Meat Shoppe Big & Juicy Burger (1.13 kg: UPC 0 58200 10650 3; Best before 2013 AU 14 EST 752)
  • The Gourmet Meat Shoppe Prime Rib Burger (907g; UPC 0 58200 10733 3; Best before 2013 AU 14 EST 752)
  • The Butcher’s Cut Pure Beef Patties, 10 Patties (1.13 kg; UPC 0 58200 21604 2; Best before 2013 AU 14 EST 752)
  • The Butcher’s Cut Pure Beef Patties, 20 Patties (2.27 kg; UPC 0 58200 21592 2; Best before 2013 AU 14 EST 752)
  • The Butcher’s Cut Pure Beef Patties, 40 Patties (4.45 kg; UPC 0 58200 21594 6; Best before 2013 AU 14 EST 752)

All of the above-listed products originated from Cardinal Meat Specialists Limited (Establishment 752. 155 Hedgedale Road, Brampton, Ontario). This is the same establishment that was linked to a 5-case outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in December 2012. The same establishment that was investigated ‘extensively’ – and fruitlessly – by CFIA in December 2012.

The detailed report promised in its final investigation update, posted on December 24th, has not yet been released to the public. Perhaps it’s just as well; that ‘final’ report would have been premature.

At this stage of the investigation, all we have are questions:

  1. How large is this outbreak? How many patients? Which provinces?
  2. Is this the same genetic strain of E. coli O157:H7 that was responsible for the December 2012 outbreak?
  3. Has production been suspended at the Cardinal Meat facility? If not, why not?
  4. What does CFIA plan to do this time to improve on its December 2012 performance?

This is the third meat-related E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Canada in less than one year. What is the federal government doing to prevent E. coli O157:H7 from spiraling out of control in Canadian beef?