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Listeria in NB

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The death of a New Brunswick woman from listeriosis was caused by food affected by the Maple Leaf recall, health officials confirmed Tuesday. The woman, in her early 80s, whose name has not been released, died last week after being admitted to hospital. She is the 17th victim of contaminated meat which originated in a single plant in Toronto, and the first confirmed case in New Brunswick.

It is unknown at this point whether the woman came in contact with the bacteria at her nursing home or if the infection came from some other source. The nursing home, whose name and location are being withheld, did serve products since recalled by Maple Leaf in connection with the outbreak that was first brought to light in mid-August.

In a September 16th release, acting chief medical officer of health Dr. Eilish Cleary assured New Brunswickers that “together, we [Public Health, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Public Health Agency of Canada] have notified hospitals, long-term care facilities, schools and other higher-risk institutions with respect to the recall and carried out verification checks to ensure products were removed. I would like to remind the public to be vigilant about products on the recall list and to go through their fridges and freezers to remove and throw out any of these food items.”

People using the cafeteria on the UNB campus have no reason to worry, according to facility general manager Martin Bayliss.

“Supplies or products from the plant were locked out before the recall.” said Bayliss in an interview with the Brunswickan. Bayliss went on to say that Sodexho cuts their own meat on-site, and that the only cafeteria outlet implicated in the recall was Mr. Sub, which “wasn’t even open during the recall.”

Asked if there was anything else he could say to reassure cafeteria users, Bayliss said, “The Canada Health Agency visited campus to check our facilities and they were very impressed. I wouldn’t worry”

In a related story, the Toronto plant where the listeria infected meat originated has been re-opened, according to a press release on the Maple Leaf site, http://www.mapleleafaction.com, which has been set up to provide information on the outbreak. As of September 17th the plant has resumed production, and will begin shipping product as usual after rigorous inspection.

UNB student David Pitts feels like the effort to keep the public informed has been successful.

“I have seen signs up at the grocery store which made me feel that I was being informed that there was a recall, and on the news with there beng so many deaths obviously there’s been a lot of media coverage. So I feel as though I have been informed of the danger.”

When asked how he felt about the plant reopening, Pitts said “I think if the problem was dealt with I don’t really have a problem with the plant being open again. Its something that is one of those facts of life, and we have to move forward, and I’m not too worried.”

Another student, Colleen Goguen, felt that “if the plant had stayed closed, a lot of people would be out of work. They have jobs to get back to, and families to feed, so they can’t sit around forever. I’m sure the company is doing everything they can to prevent another outbreak, so overall I think, if the proper measures have been taken there’s no reason not to re-open the plant.”

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Written by Colin Hodd

April 16, 2010 at 3:56 PM

Posted in Print

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