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Public Health Notice: Check your freezer for recalled beef products

Why you should take note

A food safety investigation by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has led to a recall of more than 135 ground beef productsExternal Link distributed across the country under a variety of brand names. These products may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, which can make you sick – in some cases, very sick.

To date, there is one E. coli O157:H7 illness associated with this recalled product. The Public Health Agency of Canada is working with provincial and territorial health partners to determine if there are any other people sick with E. coli O157:H7 because they ate these products.

What you should do

Check any ground beef products you have in your freezer against the product information listed on the CFIA’s websiteExternal Link. The product information is also available by calling 1-800-O-Canada (1-800-622-6232).

Do not eat any of the affected products, or any other products if you’re unsure that they are included in the recall. Secure them in a plastic bag and throw them out. Then wash your hands thoroughly in warm soapy water.

Always take proper precautions when handling and preparing foods.

Symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection

E. coli O157:H7 infections are generally caused by eating contaminated food or water, or coming into direct contact with someone who is sick. Livestock can also pass along E. coli O157:H7 bacteria.

Symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infection may vary from person to person; however, they often include:

  • severe stomach cramps
  • diarrhea (often bloody)
  • vomiting
  • fever (generally not very high -- usually less than 38.3˚C)

Generally the disease will run its course in 5 to 10 days. Treatment for those infected with E. coli O157:H7 should include drinking plenty of liquids to replace body fluids lost through diarrhea and vomiting.

If you are ill with severe diarrhea, especially bloody diarrhea, stay home from work or school and see your doctor. When you make a doctor’s appointment, tell the physician your symptoms, and you will be scheduled with the earliest appointment, to limit contact with other patients.

Who is most at risk?

Although anyone can get an E. coli O157:H7 infection, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, young children and older adults are most at risk for becoming very sick by developing such serious complications as kidney failure.

It’s possible, although not common, for some people to be infected with the bacteria and not get sick or show any symptoms and still be able to spread the infection to others. Take proper precautions when handling and preparing foods so that you don’t inadvertently make someone else sick, especially if you are preparing food for someone at high risk of becoming very sick.

How to protect yourself

Do not eat any products listed in the recallExternal Link.

Always take proper precautions when handling and preparing foods.

Anyone who is or has been in close contact with someone who might be infected with E. coli O157:H7 should:

  • wash their hands thoroughly and regularly
  • use separate towels for the sick
  • wash their clothes in hot water, and
  • clean bathroom taps, toilets, and doorknobs at least once a day with an antiseptic cleaner.

What we are doing

The Public Health Agency of Canada is working with its food safety partners in the provinces and territories to detect and investigate cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection to determine if they are associated with this recall. We continue our routine surveillance monitoring for increases in cases of foodborne illness, or food poisoning, as it’s sometimes called.

We are also working with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada on this food safety investigation by helping to coordinate the sharing of information among our food safety partners and providing laboratory and epidemiology support to provinces and territories.

For more information about our role in food illness outbreaks, please go to Anatomy of a Food-borne Illness Outbreak.

Quotes

“Taking the right precautions when you handle and prepare your food is essential to protect yourself and your loved ones from food-borne illnesses, including E. coli O157:H7.” - Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq

“Hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of food-borne illness such as E. coli O157:H7.” - Dr. David Butler Jones, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

Additional information

Media Contact

Press secretary
Office of Leona Aglukkaq
Minister of Health
613-957-0200

Public Health Agency of Canada
Media Relations
(613) 941-8189