E.coli linked to leafy greens sickens 12 in Canada

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Public health agency Leaf Vegetable

PHAC said there is a link to leafy greens but no specific product has been identified
PHAC said there is a link to leafy greens but no specific product has been identified
An outbreak of E.coli O157 which has sickened 12 people has a possible link to leafy greens, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

The agency said a specific product has not been identified but the investigation is ongoing.

There have been 12 cases of ​E.coli with a matching genetic fingerprint reported in Alberta (9), Saskatchewan (1), Ontario (1), and Newfoundland and Labrador (1).

Illness onset dates range from March 13 to 31 but are only being revealed now and PHAC said the risk is low.

Leafy green source

Leafy greens can include all varieties of lettuces and other green leaf vegetables such as kale, spinach, arugula, orchard.

The Public Health Agency of Canada with federal and provincial/territorial partners will continue to monitor for and investigate any cases of E.coli that may be related to the outbreak.

If products are identified, the public will be informed and items will be removed from the marketplace.

PHAC advised washing fresh fruits and vegetables before eating them, clean counters and cutting boards and wash hands regularly.

Bacteria can grow between 4 °C and 60 °C (40 °F to 140 °F). Keep cold foods cold at or below 4 °C (40 °F) and keep hot foods hot at or above 60 °C (140 °F).

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA’s) investigation into the food source is ongoing.

Burnaby lab part of FSIN

Meanwhile, the CFIA has highlighted improvements at its Burnaby Laboratory.

The lab will be included as part of the Food Safety Information Network (FSIN) created to improve ability to anticipate and detect routine foodborne threats.

It specializes in testing for allergens— the number one cause of food recalls in Canada.

The lab performs microbiology testing for a range of food pathogens, with expertise in those associated with seafood, and food virology.

The Government of Canada said last week it is investing $30.7m over five years to establish the FSIN, which will be implemented incrementally over five years, linking federal and provincial food safety establishments and accredited laboratories.

Cathy McLeod, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, said the investments are to improve the food safety system. 

“The experts at the Burnaby Laboratory will now be better connected with their colleagues across the country, allowing them to better prevent food safety problems and support faster recalls when needed.”

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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