An investigation into an E. coli outbreak that's sickened five people in two provinces, tracked back to a Toronto-area frozen burger plant, has now shifted its focus to that plant's suppliers.
The Public Health Agency of Canada on Monday reported five cases of illness due to E. coli O157:H7, including three in Ontario and two in Alberta, from a specific strain of the bacteria now confirmed to be the same found in recalled Butcher's Choice Garlic Peppercorn frozen beef burgers.
The burgers came from a Brampton, Ont. processing plant run by Cardinal Meat Specialists, which has since expanded its recall to cover Butcher's Choice Garlic Peppercorn and Hickory Beef burgers of any best-before date. Most recently, the recall was expanded on Sunday to include Cardinal Select brand Prime Rib Beef burgers in 1.13-kg packages with a July 31, 2013 best-before date.
A team of six Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspectors has verified the Brampton plant "is following appropriate food safety controls," the agency said Saturday.
The CFIA, which has been investigating the outbreak since Dec. 6, added Saturday that its team has turned its focus over to "tracing the origin of the ingredients, including spices and beef, from the products that tested positive."
If the agency's traceback comes up with a contaminated ingredient, "other facilities and products may be implicated (and) this could lead to further recalls," CFIA warned.