The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) continues to investigate ingredients used in burgers produced at Cardinal Meat Specialists Limited, which were recalled as part of the ongoing E. coli O157:H7 investigation.
To date, the investigation has not identified a source of contamination in the ingredients.
As reported on December 17, the CFIA has been following three lines of inquiry: spices, domestic beef ingredients, and international beef ingredients that were used to make the recalled burgers.
Spices have been ruled out of the investigation. No food safety concerns were identified at the establishment that produced the spices, and spices tested by our CFIA laboratory were found to be negative for E. coli O157:H7.
As for the beef ingredients from Australia and New Zealand, the CFIA has verified that these ingredients met all import certification and testing requirements. To date, there is no confirmation of any illness in those countries with the same E. coli O157:H7 genetic fingerprint.
The investigation into domestic beef ingredients continues. A variety of sources of domestic beef ingredients were used in the production of the recalled burgers. As noted previously, the detection of E. coli O157:H7 in any ingredients may lead to additional recalls.
All product associated with a small cluster of illnesses in Ontario and Alberta was recalled from the marketplace between December 12 and December 15, 2012.
While the Agency will continue to rigorously pursue all leads, it is possible the source may never be definitively identified.
Information on this investigation will continue to be updated through the CFIA's website and technical briefings for media.
We all have a role to play in food safety, particularly when dealing with raw products. Consumers can 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.