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Health Unit inspectors checking food shelves

Canadian Food Inspection Agency – General Link

SIMCOE, ON, AUG. 28, 2008 – Public Health Inspectors from the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit are continuing to check local food outlets for recalled meat products connected to a provincewide Listeriosis outbreak.

“It takes time for a food recall to work its way through the distribution system, so we are urging the public to keep checking the product numbers when buying deli meats or products containing deli meats,” said Health Unit Communications Coordinator Robert Roth. “Some of the recalled products could still be out there. Also, don’t forget to check your freezer.”

However, the Health Unit is also reminding the public that most healthy individuals will not contract the bacterial disease and even those who eat contaminated food may not show any symptoms. People with weakened immune systems are more at risk, as are pregnant women because the bacteria can be passed to the fetus.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Maple Leaf Consumer Foods have warned the public not to serve or consume specified lots of products containing ready-to-eat deli meats because of possible contamination with the bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes. These products have been distributed primarily to food service institutions such as restaurants, hospitals and nursing homes. In addition, these products may also be sold at retail and deli counters.

The Health Unit has contacted all local hospitals, long-term-care homes and day cares.

“Some of these Maple Leaf products are also packaged under other popular brand names, so it’s important to check the website,” Roth pointed out. There is a link to the recalled food list on the Health Unit website at http://www.hnhu.org/.

All affected products were produced at a plant in Toronto and can be identified by the Establishment number, 97B, that appears on the packages. The Establishment number is located near the “best before” or “packed on” dates. If the original product identity is not evident, people are advised to check with the retailer or supplier to determine if the product is affected.

“Some of the meat products have also been used as ingredients in sandwiches, pizzas, sausages and party platters and those items are also listed on the website,” Roth said. “If people are unsure of the product they have, we suggest they adhere to the old principle: if in doubt, throw it out.”

Listeriosis symptoms may start suddenly and include vomiting, nausea, cramps, diarrhea, severe headache, constipation or fever. Some infections become severe and develop into an infection of the brain or the lining of the brain. Some people experience only mild flu-like symptoms. Symptoms can occur from three to 70 days after eating foods contaminated with Listeria. Average time for symptoms to appear is three weeks.

To date, there are no cases of Listeriosis in Haldimand or Norfolk. As of Aug. 28, there were 22 confirmed cases of the infection in other parts of Ontario, with 19 additional cases still under investigation within the province.

Media Contact:
Robert Roth, Communications Coordinator
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
519-426-6170 Ext. 3259 or 905-318-6623 Ext. 3259

or

Abidi Shuayb
Communicable Disease Coordinator
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
519-426-6170 Ext. 3234 or 905-318-6623 Ext. 3234