A series of fruit recalls have been issued in Canada in recent months amid an outbreak of salmonella infections across the country.
The Public Health Agency of Canada said in an update Wednesday that at least 26 laboratory-confirmed cases of salmonella have been reported in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Prince Island -Édouard and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Based on its investigation, the agency identified Malichita brand cantaloupe as the likely source of the outbreak.
Meanwhile, other fruit salads and fresh-cut fruits sold by different companies have also been recalled due to salmonella contamination concerns.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is continuing its food safety investigation, which could lead to the recall of other products, says the CFIA.
Here’s what we know so far:
In October and November alone, the CFIA issued at least seven fruit recalls due to salmonella risks, according to a PKBNEWS a**lysis.
Most of these recalls involved different brands of cantaloupe – both pre-cut pieces and whole melons.
Companies whose cantaloupe products have been pulled from shelves include: Malichita, Fresh Start Foods, Tomapure Group, Fruit Pure, Urban Fare, Save on Foods, Central Foods Co.
Pre-cut fruits like honeydew, pineapple, watermelon and various fruit trays sold by other brands such as GFS, Kitchen Essential and Markon’s Ready-Set-Serve have also been removed.
These products were sold or served in hospitals, restaurants and retail outlets across Canada.
The recalled Malichita cantaloupes were sold between October 11 and November 14.
PHAC says 26 cases of Salmonella Soahanina and Sundsvall disease have been linked to the Malichita cantaloupe recall outbreak.
These illnesses occurred between mid-October and early November.
Six people were hospitalized, but no deaths were reported, according to the agency.
“Some of the people who became ill reported eating cantaloupe before their illness occurred,” PHAC said in the Nov. 22 update.
The agency says more illnesses could be reported during this outbreak.
Salmonella is a type of bacteria very often a*sociated with foodborne outbreaks, said Brian Coombes, professor and chair of the department of biochemistry and biomedical sciences at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
“Foodborne outbreaks are concerning” because they affect people “indiscriminately” – from the youngest to the oldest, he told PKBNEWS in an interview Friday.
“The biggest concern with salmonella infections is that we are seeing them become more resistant to medications,” Coombes added.
“So if people are hospitalized with very serious infections and critically ill, treatment options become more limited as bacteria become more resistant to our current arsenal of antibiotics. »
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How did the salmonella contamination occur?
Fruit can become contaminated during handling, Coombes said, so if you buy pre-cut cantaloupe or other packaged fruit at the supermarket, it has probably been handled at least twice before consuming it.
Thus, at any point in the processing chain, from removing the skin or rind to cutting into cubes, there is a possible entry route for contamination either from the utensils used or from the person handling the food product, he explained.
Whole cantaloupes can also become contaminated at the source by being exposed to animals, birds, and other types of wildlife that carry salmonella.
“There are many entry points where the product itself could become contaminated,” he said.
What you can do to stay safe
The CFIA and PHAC are warning Canadians not to consume the recalled products.
If you can’t see if you have the recalled brand of fruit in your refrigerator, PHAC recommends throwing it away.
All surfaces, including counters, containers, utensils and storage areas such as freezers and refrigerators, that may have come into contact with the recalled products, should be cleaned and disinfected.
Coombes advised buying the least processed produce, meaning a whole cantaloupe is still better than a pre-cut cantaloupe, he said.
All fruits, including the skin, should be washed properly before eating, even if you don’t eat the skin, he added.
If you are cutting raw meat, make sure the same knife is washed before using it to cut vegetables or fruits.
“The message is just understand what you’re buying, where it comes from and how, based on the format of the packaging, how could that have been manipulated and make an informed decision that way,” said Coombes.
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