Maple Leaf Foods recalls deli meats, closes plant

Wed Aug 20, 2008 5:47pm EDT
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WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Maple Leaf Foods Inc said on Wednesday it is recalling packaged deli meats and temporarily closing the Toronto plant where they were made after some were found contaminated with listeria bacteria.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said the voluntary recall by Maple Leaf, one of Canada's largest meat processors, involved processed meat sold across the country to restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes, and retail and deli counters.

Two of the recalled Maple Leaf products were identified during an investigation into an outbreak of listeriosis, a type of food poisoning, said Garfield Balsom, a spokesman for the CFIA.

Since June, 17 Canadians have become ill with the same strain of listeriosis, mainly in Ontario, where one affected person died, a Public Health Agency of Canada spokesman said.

"The source of the outbreak has not been identified yet. This is what the investigation will determine," said Philippe Brideau.

Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle pain, nausea and diarrhea, and is a particular risk for pregnant women, the elderly, infants and people with weakened immune systems.

The federal food safety agency sampled some Maple Leaf beef products and found the bacteria, but has not determined whether it is the same strain that caused the outbreak, the CFIA's Balsom said.

"We have not really linked these particular products to the outbreak, however our investigation is continuing," he said.

"We have to look at all the food that's been consumed ... and make sure we have the right product," he said.   Continued...