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BC E. coli case linked to XL Foods recall

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control today announced that the province has had its first E. coli case linked to the recall of beef products from XL Foods in Alberta.

In a news release posted on its website, the BCCDC stated:

BC has a confirmed case of E. coli O157:H7, the same strain of E. coli observed in the XL Food Inc. food safety investigation.

The BC Centre for Disease Control received confirmation of the lab test today. It has been working in partnership with the Ministry of Health, regional health authorities, Public Health Agency of Canada, other provincial and territorial colleagues, Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to investigate linkages of E. coli O157:H7 with XL food products.

The individual who tested positive is from Vancouver Island and has recovered from the illness. An investigation into the source is ongoing.

The BC Centre for Disease Control and regional health authorities routinely monitor for and investigate cases of E. coli O157:H7. There are between 110 to 180 cases of shigatoxin-producing E. coli reported each year to the BCCDC. There has been no increase in the number of cases of E. coli O157:H7 reported in BC in the past few months.

In a parallel development, the Public Health Agency of Canada has posted a new update on its website, listing the B.C. case and bringing the total known cases to 11. Of the other cases, seven are in Alberta, two Labrador.

Meanwhile the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has updated its continuing investigation into the case, stating:

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will begin a detailed assessment of XL Foods Inc., Establishment 38, on October 9. This assessment will determine if the facility has addressed deficiencies uncovered as part of the CFIA's in-depth E. coli investigation. Based on the results, a recommendation on next steps will be made to senior CFIA officials.

The licence to operate of XL Foods Inc., Establishment 38, remains suspended during this inspection, and operations, which will be subject to enhanced oversight and specific conditions, will only resume at this establishment after the CFIA is fully satisfied that the plant has implemented effective controls to manage food safety risks at all stages of production.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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