Costco and public health officials in Canada are recalling Kirkland Signature brand lean ground beef over a new E.coli outbreak reported today.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced the ground beef recall and called the health hazard alert “moderate.” E.coli bacteria was detected in 6,300kg of Kirkland Signature lean ground beef imported from the U.S.
It’s the fourth food safety recall issued by the Canadian health agency this month, though officials reassured the public that there is no increased risk of illness as long as consumers follow safety precautions while handling the Kirkland Signature beef and ensure all beef is thoroughly cooked before it’s consumed.
The source of the E.coli is still under investigation.
Fourth E.Coli Beef Recall in the Past Month in Canada
The recalled beef was sold at a Costco store in Lethbridge in Alberta, reports Huffington Post, and is an expansion of an earlier recall affecting Kirkland Signature ground beef sold in British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and other parts of Alberta.
Earlier this month, the CFIA announced yet another recall for Compliments brand ground beef sold in Ontario and Atlantic Canada. This earlier recall was classified as a “Class 1” or “high risk” health hazard.
Officials confirmed 9 illnesses were linked to the E.coli contaminated Compliments beef, with 2 probable cases and 4 suspected cases.
According to Huffington Post, the Compliments recall was expanded:
The Compliments recall was later expanded to include some President’s Choice Beef Burgers and Webers Bucket of Burgers sold in Loblaw stores that may have been distributed across Canada.
The agency said ground beef from the recalls was processed at Toronto-based Belmont Meats Ltd. and could be from Canadian, U.S. or other imported beef.
The CFIA has designated the two recalls as Class 1, or high risk.
“‘Class 1’ is a situation in which there is a reasonable probability that the use of, or exposure to, a violative product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death,” according to the agency’s website.
Critics Worry: Is Canada’s Health Inspection Good Enough?
Although the CFIA downplayed the threat to public health presented by the Kirkland Signature ground beef recall, critics and watchdog groups are worried that there aren’t enough safeguards in place in Canada’s meat inspection process. To many, four food safety recalls in a single month is very alarming.
University of Manitoba food safety expert Rick Holley told the press that the recalls mean Canada’s food safety system needs improvement. According to Huffington Post:
Holley said more research needs to be done to prevent E. coli from getting into meat-processing plants and from being transferred between cattle on farms and feedlots.
He said the CFIA needs to explain how E. coli is getting into beef products despite testing and better monitoring of meat plants.
“In my opinion we don’t have adequate control over the problem yet,” Holley said from Winnipeg.
“Regardless of all the safeguards that are in place we need to do more thinking about how we can better stop this organism from coming into the plant on the animals in the first place.”
A year ago, Canada saw the largest single meat recall in its history. An E.coli outbreak from beef originating at XL Foods in Alberta was linked to 18 illnesses. The contamination was attributed to negligence by both plant workers and government inspectors.
Canada’s Agricultural Minister Gerry Ritz has since pledged $16 million to boost food safety inspections and health standards in the country.
Did You Buy Costco Kirkland Signature Ground Beef in Canada?
If you’re worried that you may have purchased contaminated ground beef affected by this recall, call the Costco store where you purchased the meat or visit the CFIA’s website for more information at http://www.inspection.gc.ca/
What do you think about this E.coli outbreak? Are you worried about getting sick from eating ground beef? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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