The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) yesterday announced a rare public health alert for ground beef patties imported from Canada because they may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 and possibly associated with an illness in Canada.
FSIS was initially unable to reach anyone at the supplier, Sysco Food Services, to discuss a recall of the product, so the agency issued a Public Health Alert to inform food service operations and consumers.
Following the alert, FSIS learned that Sysco already had knowledge of the problem and began notifying their customers on March 20. FSIS was unaware of the firm’s actions and proceeded with the Public Health Alert out of “an abundance of caution.” A formal recall was issued shortly thereafter for approximately 16,800 pounds of ground beef patties which were produced by New Food Classics of Burlington, Ontario and imported by Sysco Seattle Inc., for distribution to restaurants in Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Washington.
E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure. The very young, seniors and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness. The infection usually begins three to four days after eating contaminated food and lasts for five to 10 days.