E.coli-scare plant no longer supplying local grocery stores 

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Food shoppers who purchase beef products at Nesters Market, Save-On-Foods and Extra Foods may want to take a careful look at meat purchased from the stores in Squamish and Whistler dating back to the end of August.

All three grocery store chains received beef products from the XL Foods operation in Brooks, Alberta, where an outbreak of E.coli O157:H7 was discovered. So far, at least 11 confirmed cases of illness across Canada have been linked to the XL Foods facility in Brooks.

When reached for comment Nesters' store manager Bruce Stewart referred questions to the grocery store's head office with Buy Low Foods, which is within the Jim Pattison Group of companies. It indicated notices about beef-product recalls are posted in-store.

"Nesters Market works closely with its wholesalers, distributors, suppliers and others to ensure that the product that we sell is safe," wrote Dan Bregg, the president of Buy Low Foods. "As well, through our association, the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG), we are kept fully informed of all up to date recall information from the (Canadian Food Inspection Agecny) and we heed the advice and direction of regulators.

"In our case, we are also in touch with the regional CFIA office and when we were advised that we may have received some of the recalled product we worked together with the CFIA to identify what the products were and to develop the list that the CFIA then published."

According to Bregg, any recalled product was taken off the store shelves and disposed of following the direction of the CFIA.

"There is no other priority more important to us than that of food safety," Bregg wrote in his statement to Pique. "We do not have any of the recalled product in our store today. All of the product that we have available for sale today comes from inspected facilities and is not subject to any recall."

There has already been one confirmed case of E.coli in B.C. on Vancouver Island. The individual who tested positive has recovered.

According to the CFIA, meat from the processing facility went to all three grocery store chains. The full list of products along with Universal Product Code (UPC) information, best before dates and packing dates can be found at the CFIA website (www.inspection.gc.ca).

Save-On-Foods is also part of the Jim Pattison group. Its website directs customers to the CFIA website for more information. Save-On-Foods customers with meat listed on the CFIA website as potentially contaminated are encouraged to return the products for a full refund.

According to a statement provided by the Save-On-Foods media relations department, a notice was sent by e-mail to customers on Sept. 28 after recalled meat was removed from stores.

Extra Foods, a Loblaw Companies Ltd. store, has posted a link to the list of recalled products sold at its Squamish store and other Extra Foods stores operating in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and four other provinces.

Julija Hunter, VP of Public Relations, wrote in a statement that Loblaw also used its social media channels to share inforrmation with customers.

According to the CFIA website, IGA stores in B.C. haven't received any meat products from the XL Foods facility in Brooks.

Eating E.coli contaminated beef may cause serious illness which can be life-threatening, so anyone with contaminated beef is urged to dispose of it. E. coli infection may cause mild to severe symptoms including diarrhea and stomach cramps. In severe cases diarrhea may become bloody. Symptoms start an average of three to four days after exposure to the bacteria, and usually last between five to 10 days. Rarely, it can lead to kidney failure and death. If you think you have an infection caused by E. coli, see your family doctor for testing, advice and treatment.

The CFIA has posted this advisory concerning contaminated meat that was purchased and has since been cooked: "If you have already prepared and stored this meat (for example made chilli or spaghetti sauce), do not consume it. If you are unsure whether a product is part of the recall, the safest course of action is to throw it away: When in doubt, throw it out!"

The XL Foods facility in Brooks remains closed while it is going through a CFIA ordered cleaning process.

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