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Headcheese Blamed for BC Salmonella Outbreak

An outbreak of a rare strain of Salmonella–S. Chester–that has infected at least ten people British Columbia may be linked to headcheese, Canadian officials report.

Headcheese is a deli product made from meat from the head of a pig with a mix of gelatin and spices.

headcheese-featured.jpgBoth the BC Center for Disease Control and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are now warning the public about Freybe headcheese.  Canadians are being advised to either discard it or return it to the place of purchase.

The only common food commonly consumed by the ten ill B.C. residents is headcheese, which was purchased from various stores throughout the province from mid to late June.

“The majority of infected people were elderly, and approximately half required hospitalization,” explained Dr. Eleni Galanis, physician epidemiologist at the BCCDC, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority. “There may be other people who also experienced symptoms, but did not see their doctors, leaving potentially more unreported cases.”

Freybe Gourmet Foods Ltd. is voluntarily recalling this product, which is produced by a third-party manufacturer. Because the headcheese is sliced and packaged at deli counters in various stores, most consumers may not be aware of the brand of headcheese purchased.

“If you purchased headcheese from mid June to July 13, and are uncertain if it is associated with this recall, please call the store where it was purchased to identify the brand,” Galanis said.

CFIA said the Freybe Headcheese was distributed throughout Canada including British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, northwest Ontario, and the Yukon.

All products sold up to and including July 14, 2010 are affected by this recall.

Canadian officials said food contaminated with Salmonella may not look or smell spoiled. Consumption of food contaminated with these bacteria may cause salmonellosis, a food borne illness.

Short-term symptoms include high fever, severe headache, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Long-term complications may include severe arthritis.

The CFIA is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall, and the investigation is continuing.

For more information, consumers and industry can call the CFIA at 1-800-442-2342 / TTY 1-800-465-7735 (8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday to Friday).

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