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E. coli outbreak linked to flour appears over, but product recalls continue

JOHN COTTER, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jun 28th, 2017

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Electron micrograph images of E.coli are shown in a handout photo. MCR-1, a gene that makes bacteria resistant to the killing effects of antibiotics, has been detected in stored samples of E. coli collected in 2010 in Canada. Now scientists are wondering if the superbug gene had made its way into Canada even earlier – and just what that could mean.THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Brian Coombes Laboratory, McMaster University
The Public Health Agency of Canada has wound down its investigation into an outbreak of E. coli linked to flour produced by Ardent Mills after people across the country became ill.

But the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) continues to announce recalls of flour products tied to the outbreak as they hunt down more of the potentially dangerous bacteria.

Thirty people tested positive for E. coli O121 between November and April, including eight people who were hospitalized. No one died.

“Final Update,” the public health agency says on its website. “Given that no new cases have been reported since April 2017, the outbreak appears to be over, and the outbreak investigation appears to be closed.”

The 30 cases included people who became ill in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

On Monday, the CFIA announced another flour product recall — the 18th recall linked to E. coli concerns since March.

The list of the pie and tart shells can be seen below. Click here to view the pie and tart shells on the CFIA website.

Brand Name Common Name Size Code(s) on Product UPC Additional Info
None (no label) 3″ Tart Shells Unsweetened Variable Sold from January 19, 2017 to April 27, 2017 None Sold in Ontario from
Hillcrest Home Baking, 2192 Floradale Rd., Floradale, ON
Schnurr’s Frozen Sweet Tart Shells Variable Sold from December 22, 2016 to April 20, 2017 Starts with 200158 Sold in Ontario from
Schnurr’s Grocery, 5168 Ament Line, Linwood, ON
Schnurr’s Tart Shells Unsweetened 3″ Variable Sold from December 23-24, 2016 Variable Sold in Ontario from
Schnurr’s Grocery, 5168 Ament Line, Linwood, ON
HomeStyle Flavours “Pillsbury* 9″ Deep Pie Crust” Variable Sold from March 15, 2017 to April 27, 2017 None Sold in Ontario from HomeStyle Flavours: 6721 Wellington Rd 109, RR 1, Teviotdale, ON*Please note that these pie shells were repacked from Apple Valley brand products by Homestyle Flavours.
HomeStyle Flavours “Pillsbury* 9″ Pie Top” Variable Sold from March 15, 2017 to April 27, 2017 None Sold in Ontario from HomeStyle Flavours: 6721 Wellington Rd 109, RR 1, Teviotdale, ON*Please note that these pie shells were repacked from Apple Valley brand products by Homestyle Flavours.
HomeStyle Flavours “Pillsbury* Unsweetened 3″ Tart Shells” Variable Sold from March 8, 2017 to April 27, 2017 None Sold in Ontario from HomeStyle Flavours: 6721 Wellington Rd 109, RR 1, Teviotdale, ON*Please note that these pie shells were repacked from Apple Valley brand products by Homestyle Flavours.
HomeStyle Flavours ʺPillsbury* Unswetened 2″ Tart Shellsʺ Variable Sold from April 5-27, 2017 None Sold in Ontario from HomeStyle Flavours: 6721 Wellington Rd 109, RR 1, Teviotdale, ON*Please note that these pie shells were repacked from Apple Valley brand products by Homestyle Flavours.

 

Fred Jamieson, a CFIA recall specialist, said food safety investigators continue to trace products that may be linked to the flour in a process he likened to peeling an onion. The sheer volume of products that must be checked is taking time.

“It is one of the larger recalls that we have done,” he said from Ottawa. “Until we have recalled all the product and identified it, I guess that product on the market would still be perceived as a risk.”

No information was released on how much flour has been recalled.

Food contaminated with E. coli may not look or smell spoiled. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and dehydration.

The bacteria, which can be found in the lower intestines of animals and people, can lead to kidney failure and death.

Health Canada issued a release Tuesday warning Canadians that it is not safe to taste or eat raw dough, batter, or any other product containing uncooked flour.

It reminded consumers that flour comes from grain grown in fields which can come into contact with bacteria from soil, water or animal waste. Cooking flour kills bacteria but eating even a small amount of uncooked flour or dough could make you sick.

“While anyone can become infected with E. coli, young children aged five and under, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to get sick and their symptoms may be more severe,” says Health Canada.

The public health agency says in one of the 30 E. coli cases, a person who became ill reported having contact with Robin Hood flour and a sample tested positive for the bacteria.

All 30 cases have a similar genetic fingerprint and some other people who got sick say they also used Robin Hood flour.

Recalled products produced by Ardent Mills were packaged under the Robin Hood and other brand names and include bags of flour, pie shells, pie lids, tart shells and cookie dough.

On May 31, Smucker Foods of Canada issued a recall for some packages of three brands of flour produced by Ardent Mills that it sells in the United States due to possible E. coli contamination.

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