JBS Swift beef recall bites President’s Choice

Fresh steaks, roasts and ground beef sold under the President’s Choice brand across Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada are being recalled by their U.S. manufacturer.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency on Tuesday and Thursday issued alerts warning the public not to consume specific products sold at stores such as Superstore, Loblaws and several other grocery chains, with “Best Before” dates from April 29 to June 16 inclusive.

The recall of beef products in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada is related to an expanded recall of beef produced April 21 in the U.S. by JBS Swift Beef Co. at Greeley, Col., due to possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination, CFIA said.

JBS Swift’s expanded recall was announced Sunday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Officials with USDA and the Centers for Disease Control were investigating 24 illnesses in multiple states and have so far found 18 of them to be associated.

“This investigation prompted the company to re-examine the effectiveness of their food safety system for the April 21 production of beef primals,” USDA said, “and they are conducting this recall out of an abundance of caution as the safety of the products produced on a portion of that day could not be assured.”

Sunday’s expanded recall by JBS Swift takes in an additional 380,000 pounds of beef shipped nationally and internationally, on top of the June 24 recall of 41,280 pounds of beef produced April 21-22 and shipped to 13 states.

Loblaw, the owner of the President’s Choice brand, stressed in a release Thursday that the quantity of PC-branded beef products impacted by JBS Swift’s recall is “very limited.”

The company said the recalled product included just five cases of “Tender and Tasty” beef out of 9,500 shipped weekly throughout Atlantic Canada; four cases of Certified Angus beef out of about 37,000 shipped weekly in Quebec; and 90 cases of Certified Angus beef out of about 15,000 shipped weekly in Ontario.

None of the affected product was shipped to the company’s stores in Western Canada, Loblaw noted, and the recall does not affect any product currently available in any of the company’s stores in Canada.

The retail products sold in Canada were fresh, not frozen, beef in variable-weight packages, consisting of trays with a plastic over-wrap as well as from the in-store meat counters. Consumers are advised to check their freezers and dispose of the affected beef products if they have them.

E. coli O157:H7 bacteria can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration and, in the most severe cases, kidney failure. The very young, seniors and people with weak or compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness.

Thoroughly cooking the meat and using safe handling practices can reduce the risk of illness through any contaminated meat or through cross-contamination of other foods, Loblaw said.

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