Multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 infections (STEC O157:H7) in 13 states

Eastern Canada has been experiencing an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to romaine lettuce. Since the lettuce is eaten raw, this increases the likelihood of acquiring the infection. It appears now that the states are experiencing a similar outbreak. The CDC is performing whole genome sequencing to determine if this outbreak is related to the Canadian romaine lettuce outbreak.

CDC, several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are
investigating a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 infections (STEC O157:H7) in 13 states. Seventeen illnesses have been reported from California (3), Connecticut (2), Illinois (1), Indiana (1), Michigan (1), Nebraska (1), New Hampshire (2), New York (1), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (1), Virginia (1), Vermont (1) and Washington (1). Illnesses started on dates from November 15 through December 8, 2017. The Public Health Agency of Canada also is investigating an outbreak of STEC O157:H7 infections in several provinces.
CDC is performing whole genome sequencing on samples of bacteria making people sick in the United States to give us information about whether these illnesses are related to the illnesses in Canada. Preliminary results show that the type of E. coli making people sick in both countries is closely related genetically, meaning the ill people are more likely to share a common source of infection.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has identified romaine lettuce as the source of the outbreak in Canada. In the United States, state and local public health officials are interviewing sick people to determine what they ate in the week before their illness started. CDC is still collecting information to determine whether there is a food item in common among sick people, including leafy greens and romaine.
Because we have not identified a source of the infections, CDC is unable to recommend whether U.S. residents should avoid a particular food. This investigation is ongoing, and more information will be released as it becomes available.

Salmonella in headcheese leads to plant closure – 3 weeks later

Have Canadian officials resolved their federal-provincial-local turf issues involving food safety outbreaks with clear guidelines on when to issue public warnings and a clear commitment to place public health above corporate interests?


The latest rolling recall involves products made by Toronto-based G. Brandt Meat Packers Ltd.

The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control got things rolling on July 14, 2010, when it confirmed 10 cases of Salmonella Chester in residents who consumed headcheese which had been purchased from various stores throughout the province from mid- to late June.

Headcheese is a deli product made from meat from the head of a pig, combined with gelatin and spices.

All anyone would say at the time was that B.C.’s Freybe Gourmet Foods Ltd. was voluntarily recalling the product, which was produced by a third-party manufacturer.

On July 22, 2010, the mystery manufacturer was indentified as the feds and Brandt announced there were now 18 people sick and people shouldn’t eat headcheese from Brandt.

On July 28, 2010, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued an alert advising Canadians not to eat Freybe brand Ham Suelze – Frebe being the same distributor of the salmonella headcheese – but no mention was made of who produced the mystery ham, and CFIA added there were no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

I’m guessing the Toronto Star made some phone calls, and on Saturday published a story reporting that G. Brandt Meat Packers Ltd. was closed for cleaning and that, “all Brandt cooked meat products bearing Establishment number 164 produced from May 30 up to and including July 30 are affected” and were potentially contaminated with either salmonella or listeria or both.

Later on July 31, CFIA published a huge list of recalled products all from the Brandt plant, and said the products may be contaminated with “foodborne pathogens” and insisted again that no one had gotten sick.

So later on July 31, 2010, the Public Health Agency of Canada issued its own release, stating,

“The Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is advising Canadians to avoid eating the cooked ready-to-eat meat products manufactured by G. Brandt Meat Products Ltd. listed in the CFIA recall notice.

The only illnesses associated to date with Brandt products have been caused by Salmonella Chester in Freybe brand headcheese.

Avoiding eating these products is especially important for Canadians at high risk of getting seriously ill from food-borne (sic, other agencies spell it foodborne) illness:
People 60 years and older.
Very young children.
People with weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing cancer treatment or who have HIV/AIDS or other chronic medical conditions.
Pregnant women, due to risk of harm to the fetus.

Besides terrible grammar, why hasn’t PHAC, or Health Canada, or CFIA said anything about the morons at Toronto’s Sick Kids’ Hospital who said that pregnant women could eat all the cold-cuts and ready-to-eat foods they want. This is wrong and dangerous.

A cluster of Samonella Chester was made publicly known by B.C. health types on July 14. It took until on or about July 30, 2010, for the feds to shut down the Toronto-based manufacturer. My guess is the plant had serious food safety issues. But that’s just a guess. The bureaucrats will never tell Canadians. And if they do, they’ll obfuscate, delay, patronize and pander.

Or just get it wrong.

Don’t argue, just wash or sanitize your hands

I have not really been to Canada; apparently Niagra Falls doesn’t count. But I have had my fair share of Canadian teammates (Canadian Olympian Courtenay Stewart), friends (KSU PhD student, Tanis Hastmann), colleagues (Katie Filion and Ben Chapman), and my boss (Doug Powell). Most of them have strong opinions about everything, which is one of their best qualities.

In accordance to strong opinionated Canadians, the Public Health Agency of Canada has issued guidelines for proper hand hygiene “based on scientific evidence and expert opinion” to prevent and control infection. This guidance includes when to wash or sanitize when there is running water available, when running water is not available, and when running water is not clean.

Hands should be washed:
when they are visibly dirty;
before preparing and immediately after handling food;
before eating food or feeding others;
before breastfeeding;
after using the toilet, changing/handling diapers, or helping someone use the toilet;
after contact with contaminated surfaces (e.g., garbage bins, cleaning cloths);
after handling pets and domestic animals;
after wiping or blowing nose, handling soiled tissues, or sneezing into hands;
after contact with blood or body fluids (e.g., vomit, saliva);
before and after dressing wounds;
before and after giving care or visiting someone who is ill, or someone who is less able to fight off infections (e.g. diabetic, cancer patient);
before preparing and taking medication; and
before inserting and removing contact lenses.

Follow the directions and suggestions, wash or sanitize your hands.