Although provincial officials have declared it over, a deadly E. coli outbreak traced to pork could cause additional illnesses because consumers and businesses may still have recalled products on hand.

The E. coli O157:H7 outbreak sickened at least 42 people who developed infections from the contaminated pork, according to Alberta Health Services. Thirteen people were so sick they were admitted to hospitals. One of them died, likely because of the infection, health officials reported. 

The Meat Shop at Pine Haven sold the pork products to restaurants, grocery stores and other entities in Canada. An ensuing series of at least six pork recalls involved dozens of products packaged under various brands. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency posted the recalls, which began April 24 and continued through May 2. 

“While this outbreak is considered over, there is still the possibility there may be additional cases confirmed in the coming weeks, which is why we ask people to check their freezers, to make sure they don’t still have products affected by the recalls,” said the Friday statement from the Alberta health department.

Dr. Jasmine Hasselback, medical officer of health for Edmonton Zone of Alberta Health Services praised the meat business in the Friday update. 

“We would also like to thank and acknowledge The Meat Shop at Pine Haven and all of the affected businesses for their cooperation,” Hasselback said in the  outbreak update.

Alberta health officials began an investigating a cluster of confirmed cases of E. coli on March 29. Three and a half weeks later, on April 24, the outbreak was linked to certain pork products sold and distributed by The Meat Shop at Pine Haven. 

Initially officials thought the outbreak was linked to Mama Nita’s Filipino Cuisine restaurant. However, it was later confirmed that the restaurant had purchased pork products from The Meat Shop. The operators deep cleaned and sanitized the restaurant.

In addition to Alberta investigators, staff from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada, worked on the investigation.

Advice to consumers
Anyone who has recently eaten any of the recalled products listed on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s website and developed symptoms of E. coli infection should immediately seek medical attention. People should make sure their doctors know about their possible exposure so the proper diagnostic testing and treatment can be provided. 

Symptoms usually begin one to eight days after ingesting the bacteria. Symptoms can include diarrhea that can range from mild and watery to severe and bloody; abdominal cramping, pain or tenderness; nausea; and vomiting in some people.

Healthy adults usually recover from E. coli O157:H7 infections within a week. Young children, older adults, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems have a greater risk of developing a life-threatening form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

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