Food recalled after possible Listeria contamination

A Calgary-based company that sells pre-cooked Asian foods is grappling with possible contamination from Listeria and has shut down its plant and recalled products in five provinces.

CALGARY — A Calgary-based company that sells pre-cooked Asian foods is grappling with possible contamination from Listeria and has shut down its plant and recalled products in five provinces.

Ginger Beef Corp. said Wednesday it’s working with retailers from British Columbia to Ontario to pull the affected foods from store shelves.

The company said it’s issuing the warning as a precaution after detecting Listeria monocytogenes during a routine monthly inspection.

Ginger Beef has also shut down its entire production line in Calgary to do a complete wash-down.

And it’s also working with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to review its operations and ensure food handling safety.

“Ginger Beef Corporation takes the safe preparation of our food products, and the health and safety of our customers, very seriously,” said James Leung, vice-president of operations for Ginger Beef Choice Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company.

“We follow all government requirements for food handling and have a comprehensive food safety program in place across our operations.”

The dozens of recalled products include packages of ginger beef, pork dumplings, lemon chicken, sweet and sour pork, vegetable fried rice, chicken egg rolls and others. A full list is posted on the CFIA website.

Last week, the CFIA issued a warning about possible listeria contamination of one-kilogram packages of Ginger Beef’s Special Combo, sold to Costco stores in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Ginger Beef voluntarily recalled that product.

The most recently recalled foods are sold in a variety of major grocery stores, and may be sold from clerk-service counters. Consumers who aren’t sure if they have the affected product should check with the store they bought it from, the CFIA said in a release.

The CFIA says food contaminated with Listeria may not look or smell spoiled. The bacteria can lead to listeriosis, a foodborne illness that can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea.

It is particularly dangerous for pregnant women, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of the Ginger Beef products, the CFIA says.

The company said the federal food safety regulator is monitoring the voluntary recall and production will be stopped until tests are completed over the next 10 days, and show favourable results 10 times in a row.

Leung said the food recall is the first such incident in the company’s 30-year history.

“In undertaking the voluntary recall of our pre-cooked products and shutting down our facility, we are exceeding CFIA regulations for these circumstances,” added Leung.

“These are precautionary measures taken to protect the health and safety of our customers.”

The company also operates full-service Ginger Beef food court kiosks across Calgary.

The recall is “just for the retail part of the business,” said Leung in an interview. “It has nothing to do with the restaurants.”

Ginger Beef shares were halted on the TSX Venture Exchange pending news from the company, but resumed trading early Wednesday afternoon.

Its shares closed unchanged at 12.5 cents each.

Leung said the financial impact of the recall is not clear at this point.

“It’s still in the very early stage,” he said.

A few years ago, Canada’s largest food processor Maple Leaf Foods was forced to recall its meat products across the country after a listeria outbreak at a Toronto plant.

The 2008 outbreak caused at 22 deaths, and many more people fell ill.

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