The outbreak of Salmonella Chester infections that we first learned about from the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC) has spread to a second province.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is reporting a total of 18 confirmed cases of this relatively rare strain of Salmonella – 17 in British Columbia and one in Ontario. Most of the outbreak victims are more than 70 years old.
According to BC CDC, about half of the initial 10 reported victims needed hospitalization.
The Canadian outbreak is completely unrelated to the recent Salmonella Chester outbreak in the USA.
The illnesses have been linked to the consumption of Freybe headcheese, which was manufactured for Freybe Gourmet Foods Ltd. by G. Brandt Meat Packers of Mississauga, Ontario.
Headcheese is a deli product made from meat from the head of a pig, combined with gelatine and spices. It is not a cheese and contains no dairy ingredients.
Freybe and Brandt have recalled their headcheeses in response to this outbreak:
- Freybe has recalled all Freybe brand Head Cheese products sold up to and including July 14, 2010. The recalled head cheese was distributed in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, northwest Ontario, Yukon, and may have been distributed nationally. Freybe reports that the recalled products were distributed to the Overwaitea Food Group (which includes Save-on-Foods, PriceSmart Foods, Urban Fare and Cooper’s Foods) and Thrifty Foods stores, as well as other smaller delis in Western Canada and the Yukon. As a precaution, Freybe also has suspended distribution of its Ham Suelze, the only other product manufactured for Freybe at Brandt's Mississauga plant.
- G. Brandt Meat Packers Ltd. has recalled all flavours of Brandt Headcheese products, bearing Establishment number 164 and purchased up to and including July 21, 2010. The Brandt Headcheese products were distributed nationally.
Consumers often will not be aware of the source of the headcheese they have purchased, because these products typically are sold by the slice at deli counters. Anyone who has eaten headcheese and subsequently experienced symptoms that are consistent with a Salmonella infection (fever, severe headache, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and/or diarrhoea) should seek immediate medical attention.
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