Meat recall has country on edge

Grocery shopping tends to not be a place where customers are cautious or afraid. It is usually a time of trying to plan suppers and a week of lunches, not deciphering between products that may or may not be harmful to families.

  • Sep. 3, 2008 5:00 p.m.

Thousands of Maple Leaf Foods items have been recalled throughout Canada and removed from the shelves of

Grocery shopping tends to not be a place where customers are cautious or afraid. It is usually a time of trying to plan suppers and a week of lunches, not deciphering between products that may or may not be harmful to families.

Recently the country has experienced a food recall that is sure to make history. Meat from across Canada is being taken off of the shelves of grocery stores and markets after cases of listeriosis were confirmed as being caused by certain Maple Leaf meat products.

There have been a total of 29 cases in Canada since the outbreak on June 1 and there are 36 others still under investigation. There have been at least 15 people in the country who have died of listeriosis since the outbreak and listeriosis as a cause of more deaths is currently being looked at.

In Alberta there has been two confirmed results of listeriosis. One of the cases was a deceased woman in Peace County Health Region and the other case a man from the Aspen Health Region.

There have been no cases of listeriosis reported in Ponoka since the outbreak and meat has been thrown away to help protect customers.

Jim Hamilton, owner of Hamilton’s IGA says he was immediately told about the recall and followed the guidelines of removal. Altogether Hamilton estimates that there was approximately $1,000 worth of meat removed from his grocery store.

Hamilton was pleased with the promptness of relaying the information and the efficiency of taking away the recalled items.

“We were told what the products were and removed them from the shelves,” said Hamilton. “No one has been reported sick.”

Hamilton believes that although the situation is negative, the system that was used was very effective.

“It proves that the system works,” he said. “We were notified and with the system in place we knew what to take off the shelves and were able to handle it.”

Although the situation is tragic and the process to amend the issue is a tireless one, Hamilton feels that the issue facing his store was quickly taken into control.

“You can’t control what’s happening but the system worked to make sure products could be recalled and tracked,” he said.

The other major grocery store in Ponoka is Extra Foods. The staff and manager of Extra Foods were not able to comment.

As of Aug. 30, Alberta has had nine cases of listeriosis reported to Alberta Health and Wellness since Jan. 1. Of those nine cases, two happened before the outbreak start time of June 1 and seven cases have occurred since June 1.

Of those seven cases, test results to determine a link to the outbreak strain have been done for six of them but the final results suggest that four of the cases are not connected to the outbreak and two cases are confirmed to be linked to the outbreak. One case is still waiting for the final lab results.

listeriosis is fairly common and is usually not a major concern for most people. On the other hand, it has the potential to lead to serious complications in the elderly, newborns, pregnant women and individuals with a weak immune system.

Alberta Health and Wellness suggests that those groups who do develop symptoms such as a fever, stiff neck and a headache and who may have eaten any of the recalled products should contact their physician or health care provider.

For updated statistics and information on listeriosis visit the Alberta Health and Wellness webiste at www.health.alberta.ca or call HealthLink Alberta toll free at 1-866-408-LINK.

For information on products implicated in the nation meat product recall visit www.inspection.gc.ca.

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