CFIA Concludes Investigation into Cardinal Meat Specialists Limited
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has completed its investigation into ingredients used in burgers produced at Cardinal Meat Specialists Limited. These burgers were recalled as part of an E. coli O157:H7 investigation. Following extensive efforts, the CFIA has concluded that there is no evidence available to identify a source of contamination.
The Agency's investigation followed three lines of inquiry related to the ingredients - spices, domestic beef ingredients, and international beef ingredients.
CFIA investigators pursued all avenues of inquiry, including
- Assessing production, inspection and testing records;
- Reviewing plant food safety procedures; and
- Conducting additional testing on burger ingredients.
As reported on December 21, spices tested negative for E. coli and were ruled out of the investigation. It was also determined that international ingredients had met all import certification and testing requirements. Furthermore, there are no reported cases of illness in those countries with the same E. coli O157:H7 genetic fingerprint.
The CFIA has now confirmed that all available domestic beef ingredient products have tested negative for E. coli O157:H7.
As all lines of inquiry have been exhausted, the CFIA's investigation will not progress further. A detailed report of the investigation will be posted on the CFIA’s website in the coming weeks.
It is important to note that all products associated with a small cluster of illnesses in Ontario and Alberta was recalled from the marketplace between December 12 and December 15, 2012. The CFIA will continue to work with public health authorities to monitor any reported cases of illness.
Canada has rigorous requirements for meat production to reduce the risk of E. coli, but even the best food safety systems cannot eliminate all potential opportunities for contamination all the time.
This is why it is critical that consumers take a few simple steps to keep their food safe. Cooking ground beef to at least 71°C fully destroys E. coli bacteria. As well, consumers can prevent contamination of other foods by ensuring that cooking surfaces and utensils are well cleaned with soap and water after coming into contact with raw beef.
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