Check your freezers for recalled beef

Ladysmith area is one of many affected by XL Foods Inc. beef recall.

Ladysmith residents are being advised to check their freezers as the Public Health Agency of Canada continues its inquiry into E. coli illnesses linked to the food safety investigation at XL Foods Inc.

Among the many local grocery stores affected by the beef product recall are the 49th Parallel Grocery and Safeway.

According to 49th Parallel president Peter Richmond, the recall affected hamburger and sausages sold in three of their stores, including Chemainus and Ladysmith.

The products include lean ground beef with a best before date of Sept. 19 to Sept. 29, and “Our own” brand sausages in the bratwurst, sundried tomato and B’fast bacon varieties with a best before date of Sept. 22 to Sept. 30.

“It was pulled immediately as soon as we were notified, and there hasn’t been any since,” said Richmond. “If you cook your beef thoroughly, there is no health risk.”

Customers who have purchased recalled products are welcome to return them for refund.

The 49th Parallel chain is temporarily refraining from purchasing tubed ground beef as an added precaution, Richmond added.

The last beef recall to hit Ladysmith was around May 2005, said Richmond, adding that the company does its best to maintain Canada suppliers.

“We feel we have a very safe food supply system, and the company is making changes to improve it even more,” he said. “We’re comfortable with our suppliers.”

A representative from Safeway did not return the Chronicle’s phone call before press time.

Information from the Canadian Public Health Agency states that products contaminated with E. coli O157 can pose a serious public health risk. Most strains of E. coli are harmless; however, some strains, such as E. coli O157: H7, can make people sick, causing severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Serious complications of an E. coli O157:H7 infection can include kidney failure.

If you think you are sick with an E. coli O157:H7 infection, consult a healthcare professional.

As of Friday, a total of 13 cases of reported illnesses have been linked to XL Foods products — seven in Alberta, one in Newfoundland, four in Quebec and one in Nanaimo, B.C.

On Saturday, XL Foods announced it would be temporarily laying off up to 2,000 workers from its meat processing plant in Brooks, Alta.

The plant’s license was suspended Sept. 27 after tests by U.S. and Canadian officials found E. coli in the beef.

The Brooks plant was granted permission to continue limited meat processing operations Thursday; however, it is uncertain how long it will be before it will be able to return to full operation.

For more information on affected stores and a comprehensive list of what items have been recalled, click here.

The customer service department at the Ladysmith 49th Parallel Grocery store also has more information available to concerned customers.