The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health is reminding consumers to use safe beef handling and cooking practises, in the wake of the recent recall of Alberta beef products by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
The Ministry of Health is aware of 13 reported cases of E.coli infection in Saskatchewan in September; the usual number of cases in that month ranges from zero to four. Public health authorities are investigating these cases and conducting tests to determine whether they are linked to the recall. Laboratory results are expected within the next few days.
"People can reduce their risk of E.coli infection by taking very simple, common sense steps," Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said. "Consumers should be vigilant about thorough hand washing when handling or preparing food, and ensure that all meat is cooked thoroughly."
Symptoms of E.coli infection include severe abdominal pain, watery or bloody diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, headaches but little or no fever. Symptoms usually appear within three to four days but can occur up to ten days later and last five to ten days. People most at risk of developing serious complications from E.coli are pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, young children and the elderly. Residents with prolonged symptoms should visit their doctor or an emergency department.
Dr. Shahab says people should be aware that restaurant meals as well as home-cooked food could be a potential source of E.coli if food is not handled safely. Restaurant employees and individuals involved with preparing meals for the public are advised to stay home if they are ill and seek medical advice if symptoms are severe.
The Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, CFIA and provincial health ministries continue to monitor the situation, in collaboration with health regions.
Meat products covered by the recall should either be returned to the location of purchase or discarded.
Members of the public who have health-related questions can call HealthLine at 1-877-800-0002 or visit www.healthlineonline.ca. Updated information on the beef product recall is available at www.inspection.gc.ca. Information on safe food handling practices is available at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/kitchen-cuisine/interact/index-eng.php.