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Listeria outbreak in Canada linked to frozen chicken; recall underway



Public health officials in Canada posted a Public Health Notice today regarding an outbreak of Listeria infections linked to frozen cooked chicken. The outbreak has hospitalized 85 percent of victims.

The Public Health Agency of Canada announced it is collaborating with provincial public health partners, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada to investigate the outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections involving British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario.

According to a recall notice posed by CFIA, Rosemount Sales and Marketing is recalling Rosemount brand cooked diced chicken meat from the marketplace because of possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

“Consumers should not consume and distributors, retailers and food service establishments such as hotels, restaurants, cafeterias, hospitals and nursing homes should not sell or use the recalled products described below.”

The Rosemount brand cooked diced chicken meat can be identified by the following package information:

Brand Name Common Name Size UPC Code(s) on Product
Rosemount Cooked diced chicken meat 13 mm – ½” (#16305) 4.54 kg 2 06 20263 12454 7 PACKDATE: 01/21/19
The recalled chicken product was distributed in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia and may have been distributed to other provinces and territories.
“This recall was triggered by findings by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) during its investigation into a foodborne illness outbreak.” The agency noted that they are conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated food recall warnings.
The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing recalled product from the marketplace.

About the Outbreak
As of Aug. 18, 2019, there have been seven people confirmed with Listeria monocytogenes illness in three provinces. British Columbia has 1; Manitoba has 1; and Ontario has 5. Individuals became sick between November 2017 and June 2019. Six of the seven people have had such severe symptoms they were admitted to hospitals. Individuals who became ill are between 51 and 97 years of age. The majority of cases, 86 percent, are female.

“The collaborative outbreak investigation was initiated because of an increase of Listeria illnesses that were reported in June 2019. Through the use of a laboratory method called whole genome sequencing, two Listeria illnesses from November 2017 were identified to have the same genetic strain as the illnesses that occurred between April and June 2019,” Canadian officials said today

It is possible that more recent illnesses may be reported in the outbreak because of the delay between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported to public health officials. This period is called the case reporting delay. In national Listeria monocytogenes outbreak investigations, the case reporting delay is usually between 4 and 6 weeks.

According to The Public Health Agency of Canada’s current outbreak investigation, Rosemount cooked diced chicken was supplied to institutions (including cafeterias, hospitals and nursing homes) where many of the individuals who became sick resided, or visited, before becoming ill; “Rosemount brand cooked diced chicken has been identified as a likely source of the outbreak.”

The recalled product is packaged for hotels, restaurants and institutions, not for retail sales. For additional food recall details on product names and lot codes, consumers can consult CFIA’s website. Food service establishments are advised not to sell or serve any recalled products, or any items that may have been prepared or produced using recalled products.

This public health notice will be updated on a regular basis as the investigation evolves.

Listeria infections
Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still cause serious and sometimes life-threatening infections. Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled product and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical treatment and tell their doctors about the possible Listeria exposure.

Also, anyone who has eaten any of the recalled product should monitor themselves for symptoms during the coming weeks because it can take up to 70 days after exposure to Listeria for symptoms of listeriosis to develop.

Symptoms of Listeria infection can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache and neck stiffness. Specific laboratory tests are required to diagnose Listeria infections, which can mimic other illnesses.

Pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and people such as cancer patients who have weakened immune systems are particularly at risk of serious illnesses, life-threatening infections and other complications. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, their infections can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn or even stillbirth.