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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

E. coli Outbreak to the North – 25 Sick from Flour in Canada

20170328_1490718730482_engThe Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with federal and provincial public health partners to investigate an outbreak of Escherichia coli, called E. coli O121 that has now been linked to Robin Hood All Purpose Flour, Original. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has issued a food recall warning advising Canadians of the recalled product that has been distributed in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. The investigation is ongoing and it is possible that additional products linked to the outbreak investigation may be identified.

Canadians are advised not to use or eat any Robin Hood All Purpose Flour, Original sold in 10 kilogram bags with a code containing BB/MA 2018 AL 17 and 6 291 548 as these products may be contaminated with E. coli. For additional recall details, please consult CFIA’s recall notice. Restaurants and retailers are also advised not to sell or serve the recalled product, or any items that may have been prepared or produced using the recalled product.

This outbreak is a reminder that it is not safe to taste or eat raw dough or batter, regardless of the type of flour used as raw flour can be contaminated with harmful bacteria such as E. coli.

There have been 25 cases of E. coli O121 with a matching genetic fingerprint reported in four provinces: British Columbia (12), Saskatchewan (4), Alberta (4) and Newfoundland and Labrador (5). The illness onset dates range from November 2016 to late February 2017. Six individuals have been hospitalized. These individuals have recovered or are recovering. No deaths have been reported. The majority (54%) of the individuals who became ill are male with an average age of 24 years.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a food recall warning for Robin Hood All Purpose Flour, Original linked to this outbreak. During the food safety investigation, samples of Robin Hood flour were collected and did test positive for E. coli O121. Several individuals who became ill reported having contact with Robin Hood flour. The investigation is ongoing and it is possible that additional products linked to the outbreak investigation may be identified.