The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed that two people have contracted bacterial food poisoning from frozen beef burgers.
The burgers, Food Quality News has announced, were contaminated with a toxin derived from the bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli) and were manufactured at the company Cardinal Meat Specialists. Cardinal Meat is one of the largest manufacturers of frozen burgers in the country.
The incidents of gastrointestinal illness have triggered a recall of various brands of burgers sold at Canada Safeway stores, and involving products that have been distributed across large parts of the country (Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, according to The Star). The recall relates to the Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli strain O157:H7 (the enterohemorrhagic strain, where infection may lead to hemorrhagic diarrhea, and to kidney failure).
The affected products, listed by CTV News, are Gourmet Meat Shoppe Big & Juicy Burger, Gourmet Meat Shoppe Prime Rib Burger and Butcher's Cut Beef Patties sold in packages of 10, 20 and 40. The burgers were produced on one single day on Aug. 14, 2012 at the Cardinal Meat Specialists plant in Brampton, Ont. The burgers have a best-before date of Aug. 14, 2013.
Paul Mayers, associate vice-president of programs at the CFIA indicated that Cardinal Meat Specialists would continue to operate whilst the investigation was underway. Quoted by the Vancouver Sun, he said: "The plant continues to operate. This is raw product and we know that the presence of microorganisms can occur ... (Cardinal) continues to operate with the continued oversight of the CFIA."
The current CFIA warning and associated recall follows a recall in December 2012 involving burgers from the same company (that time it was Butcher's Choice Garlic Peppercorn beef burgers which were contaminated with E. coli O157:H7).