Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Listeriosis Outbreak in Canada

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has linked a deadly listeriosis outbreak to a Maple Leaf Foods plant in Toronto. Products include ready to eat deli meant under brand names of Schneiders, ML Sure Slice, Deli Gourmet, Burns. For a complete list, refer: CFIA Recall Alert.

Maple Leaf Foods had already issued a voluntary recall of the suspected products and closed its Bartor Road plant in Toronto after its meat products tested positive for the bacteria. Maple Leaf Foods has also widened the recall of the affected foods.

Canada's Public Health Agency has reported four deaths from this strain of listeriosis linked to the meat plant. A further 21 people are confirmed as displaying symptoms of this bacterium. Another 30 cases are now under investigation.

About Listeriosis:
Listeriosis symptoms can occur even 70 days after contaminated food has been consumed. The Health Agency thus expects the number of confirmed and suspected cases to rise in the coming days. This foodborne illness is most serious among the elderly, pregnant women and people with depressed immune systems. The bacterium is typically found in herd animals, meats, unpasteurized milk and unprocessed cheese products. Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, nausea or diarrhea. The infection can spread to the nervous system and cause headaches, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and even convulsions. Treatment usually includes a course of antibiotics.