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E. coli case in Newfoundland linked to tainted XL Foods beef

By Bill Kaufmann, Calgary Sun

The first E. coli infection outside Alberta linked to XL Foods’ Brooks plant has been recorded.

A person in Newfoundland and Labrador was listed Friday by the Public Health Agency of Canada as the latest sickened by a tainted beef product originating from the plant.

The health agency said the person has made a full recovery from what can be a potentially fatal infection.

An unusual number of E. coli cases have also sprung up in Saskatchewan, but none have so far been linked to the Alberta facility.

It’s not entirely surprising the case in Atlantic Canada has come to light, said Lisa Gautier of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

“Many of the products on the list of over 1,600 recalled items have been distributed nationally,” Gautier said.

Four illnesses connected to the XL Foods facility have been identified among Albertans, one of whom, an Edmonton man, is suing XL Foods.

The contamination has sparked the largest meat recall in Canadian history since it began Sept. 16.

A Calgary Sun poll found most of the 155 respondents cautiously willing to still eat beef despite the E. Coli outbreak.

When asked if they were comfortable eating beef amid Canada’s biggest meat recall, 61% said they are, given the meat is cooked properly.

Another 17% said it depends if the item is on the CFIA list while 21% stated they’d tossed out all the red meat from their fridge.

At the same time, local restaurants and food retailers have said it hasn’t impacted business or prices, with consumers showing some caution but sticking with beef.

Some customers do inquire about beef safety but are quickly assured, said Diane Phillips, general manager at the Cattle Baron, 3340 26 St. N.E.

“We put them at ease,” she said.

“People still want steak, people still want to go out and eat.”

Calgary Co-op has yet to feel a sales or price impact from the XL Food plant closure, spokeswoman Karen Allan said.

“We still do have people buying beef and it hasn’t impacted our prices, but we don’t know what’s coming,” she said.

But some restaurateurs said if the plant, which processes a third of the nation’s beef, remains shuttered for a lot longer, they and their customers could feel the pinch.

Mark Von Schellwitz of the Canadian Food and Restaurant Association said he’s been keeping in close contact with his western Canada members.

“There’s no question there could be supply and price implications going forward,” he said.

“But you can be absolutely sure our restaurants are not serving any of the recalled items to their customers.”

On Thursday, an XL Foods recorded message said the company was taking responsibility and stepping up a wide range of measures “to ensure something like this never happens again.”

bill.kaufmann@sunmedia.ca

twitter@SUNBillKaufmann


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