Food Poisoning Outbreak Due to Listeria

Vancouver, August 27, 2008 — There is a Canada-wide outbreak of an illness caused by Listeria monocytogenes, a germ that has contaminated some deli meat products from one Maple Leaf Consumer Foods Inc. plant in Ontario.
Of the approximately twenty cases reported so far in Canada, four are from BC, but none among residents of the Vancouver Coastal Health region.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Maple Leaf Consumer Foods are warning the public not to serve or consume meat products from Establishment 97B.

The affected products can be identified by the Establishment number that appears on the packages. The products made at this facility bear Establishment number (Est) 97B. The establishment number is located near the Best Before or Packed On dates.

These products have been distributed nationally to retail stores and food service institutions such as restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutional cafeterias or kitchens. These products may also be sold at deli counters. If the original product identity and Best Before code is not evident, consumers are advised to check with their retailer to determine if the product is included in the list of recalled products. If in doubt, throw it out.

Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled. Eating food contaminated with this bacteria may cause listeriosis, an illness which can be serious. Listeriosis can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. Pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. Infected pregnant women may experience only a mild, flu-like illness, however, infections during pregnancy can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth.

For more information on listeriosis, and what foods people at risk should avoid, please visit the BC HealthFiles. For information on the national outbreak, please refer to the Public Health Agency of Canada website, and for more information about foods recalled, see the CFIA website.