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Weyburn, Saskatchewan
S4H 2Z9
Tel: (306) 842-8399
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Food Alert

The latest update on Listeriosis outbreak from the Public Health Agency of Canada: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/alert-alerte/listeria/listeria_2008-eng.php

The recent increase in cases of Listeria monocytogenes with the same genetic fingerprint (strain) in Canada has prompted a large recall of ready-to-eat meat products that were produced at a Maple Leaf Foods facility in Toronto, Ontario. These ready-to-eat meat products have been distributed nationally to retail stores and food service locations such as restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes, cafeterias, deli counters, and fast-food outlets.
Laboratory test results have now established a link between the contaminated meat products and human illness. Several meat samples from the Maple Leaf Foods facility in Toronto have tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. To date, it appears that two lines in the plant were involved and that other production lines were not contaminated but as a precautionary measure all products from this plant have been recalled.

For current information on the food investigation and the number of cases linked to this outbreak go to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) website at http://www.inspection.gc.ca/. One of the individuals linked to the outbreak lives in Saskatchewan. There have been several deaths associated with this outbreak.

Sun Country Regional Health Authority continues to work with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health to notify facilities about the recall. When recalls of food products are issued there is a process that the Region undertakes to ensure that the recalled products are promptly removed from hospitals, health centres, long term care facilities, day cares, and other facilities that serve foods. Meat products included in this recall have been found in food services in the Sun Country area and have been taken out of circulation.

Listeria is widespread in the environment and is found in soil, vegetation, water, sewage, silage and in the stool of humans and animals. Healthy people exposed to Listeria are at a very low risk of becoming ill and rarely develop symptoms.

Some people are at a higher risk for disease if they become infected with Listeria. People at higher risk include: the very young, the very old, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems (e.g. those undergoing chemotherapy, transplant patients, people with HIV/AIDS, diabetics, etc.). Those at greater risk should take precautionary measures by avoiding any recalled food products, avoiding raw, unpasteurized milk and dairy products, and ensuring that raw vegetables are washed thoroughly before they are eaten.

People who believe they have experienced symptoms of illness as a result of exposure to Listeria should contact their physician. Symptoms usually appear within three to 21 days (but may take up to 70 days) after consuming food contaminated with Listeria. Symptoms of Listeria can include high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, nausea and other gastrointestinal symptoms. People with lab-confirmed Listeria are treated with antibiotics.

How can I reduce my risk of developing listeriosis?
• Wash your hands before and after preparing food and after handling animals.
• Thoroughly cook raw meats before eating.
• Wash raw vegetables and fruit before eating.
• Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized (raw) milk.
• Keep raw meat separate from vegetables, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat and foods that are ready to eat.

Need More Information?
• Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
People should check the recall list on a regular basis as updates are posted. If you have purchased products on the recall list they should be thrown away. A complete and updated list of the recalled meat products can be obtained by calling 1-800-442-2342 and the complete list is also available at http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/corpaffr/recarapp/2008/list97be.shtml
Note that not all of the recalled products will indicate Maple Leaf on the packaging.
o Food Safety Facts on Listeria at http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/concen/cause/listeriae.shtml.
o Listeria Investigation: Ready-To-Eat Meat Products - Questions and Answers for Consumers at http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/corpaffr/recarapp/2008/listqueste.shtml
Saskatchewan Health
Public Health Alert at http://www.health.gov.sk.ca/health-alert-listeria-august-2008.
Information on food safety with links to information on listeriosis at http://www.health.gov.sk.ca/food-safety.

Health Canada
Health Canada information on Listeria Outbreak at http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/alert-alerte/listeria_200808-eng.php
Information on Listeria and Food Safety at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/food-aliment/listeria-eng.php.

Maple Leaf Foods Inc.
Consumers can call the Consumer Affairs hotline at 1-800-568-5801 with any questions or concerns about the current recall.

• HealthLine - 1-877-800-0002
• HealthLine Online at http://www.health.gov.sk.ca/healthline-online

If you have any additional questions about Listeria, contact the Weyburn or Estevan Public Health office and ask to speak to a Public Health Inspector:

Weyburn Public Health
(306) 842-8618
Weyburn, SK, S4H 279

Estevan Public Health
306) 637-3626
Box 5000-201
Estevan, SK, S4A 2V6

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