Despite a nation-wide beef recall initiated last week by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency it seems that many North Islanders can squeeze in the last barbecues of the season without fear.
Representatives from the three big North Island supermarkets — SuperValu and Marketplace IGA in Port McNeill, and Overwaitea in Port Hardy — said this week their customers are unaffected.
Marketplace IGA has an exclusive contract with a different company and SuperValu was also using a different supplier, so both were unaffected. In Port Hardy, Overwaitea does not use ground beef from XL Foods, the company at the heart of the scare, and made a decision to withdraw other products from the company as a preemptive move after the initial advisory.
The CFIA detected the bacterium E.coli O157:H7 during routine tests at the Alberta-based XL Foods on September 4, prompting an investigation. During this investigation the CFAI identified beef trimmings, used by grocers and secondary processors in ground beef products, distributed on specific dates as being a potential carrier of the bacteria.
As the investigation into the plant continued this week, the CFAI expanded the list of potentially affected products to include whole cuts of meat produced on the same dates as the tainted beef trimmings, leading to a recall of products from nation-wide chains like Walmart and Costco.
The bacteria has symptoms including cramps and nausea, and can lead to Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, a type of kidney failure and blood disorder that can be fatal. Symptoms usually start between three and ten days after ingestion, and last from five to ten days.
So far, there have been four confirmed cases of E.coli poisoning in Alberta which have been linked to the contaminated beef, with nine more cases currently under investigation.
Due to the wide range of potentially affected products, the CFAI is advising consumers unsure if they have the affected beef in their home to check with the store where the product was purchased or throw it out.
A full list of the products included in the recall, as well as the dates in question and information on E.coli and food safety, can be found on the CFAI’s website, www.inspection.gc.ca.