The Sobeys and Loblaws grocery chains are pulling romaine lettuce off the shelves at all their stores across Canada in response to a E. Coli outbreak in the Ontario, Quebec and parts of the U.S.
The Public Health Agency of Canada issued an public health notice Tuesday advising only individuals in Ontario and Quebec to avoid eating romaine lettuce and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce. The warning did not extend beyond those two provinces.
“Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that residents in other parts of Canada are affected by this outbreak,” Health Canada spokesperson Anna Maddison told Postmedia in an email.
But in a press release Wednesday, Sobeys, which has 1,500 grocery stories across the country operating as Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Foodland, FreshCo, Thrifty Foods, and Lawton’s Drug Stores, said it has temporarily stopped the sale of more than 300 romaine lettuce products across the country due to the concern for the health of employees and customers.
Loblaws, Canada’s largest food retailer and the parent company of a number of grocery chains in B.C. including T&T Supermarket, Real Canadian Superstore and No Frills, says “out of an abundance of caution” it is recalling and removing romaine lettuce products from stores shelves across Canada.
There have been 18 confirmed cases of E. coli under investigation in Canada — three in Ontario and 15 in Quebec — connected with romaine lettuce. No deaths have been reported but six people have been hospitalized, and one person suffered from hemolytic-uremic syndrome, which is a severe complication that can result from an E. coli infection
Maddison said the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is working with public health officials to determine the source of the romaine lettuce that ill individuals were exposed to.
U.S. authorities reported 32 cases of E. coli, 13 of which involved a person who was hospitalized.
People infected with E. coli can have a wide range of symptoms, which include nausea, vomiting, headache, mild fever, severe stomach cramps, watery or bloody diarrhea.
Most symptoms end within five to ten days.
With Canadian Press files