EDMONTON — Health officials in Alberta say they are investigating five cases of E. coli infections in people, but they are not linking them to an extensive recall of ground beef from major Canadian grocery stores.
Alberta Health Services says four of the infections are in Edmonton and one is in Calgary.
Alberta investigates between 20 and 25 cases of E. coli each year.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says it is not aware of any E. coli cases related to the recall, but it is monitoring the situation.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency first warned on Sunday that ground beef from Edmonton-based XL Foods may contain E. coli. Since then, the list of stores the products were sold in has been expanded several times.
“This is ground beef and the ground beef is sold originally in large containers — tubs or larger type of containers — and they go out to retail outlets and various distributors,” said the agency’s Garfield Balsom. “The various distributors and retail outlets use these containers and these ground beef products and repack them in their own brands and smaller units,” he said.
“We have to identify all these accounts. We have to try to identify for consumers exactly how they receive the product.
“That takes time and that is what we are doing with all of these expanded recalls.”
The type of products on the recall list includes packaged ground beef and hamburgers to meat loaf, pepperoni, bratwurst and Salisbury steak.
The list includes some of the largest retailers in the country including Sobeys, Co-op, Metro, Foodland, Giant Tiger and several corporate and franchised Loblaws Companies stores including Real Canadian Superstore.
On its company website, XL Foods called it a “precautionary measure.”
A full list of the stores affected can be found on the food inspection agency’s website at www.inspection.gc.ca