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Admin error led to Canadian listeria recall delay - CFIA

By Mark Astley , 15-Dec-2011
Last updated on 15-Dec-2011 at 14:42 GMT

Several dairy products, potentially contaminated with listeria, remained on the market over a month after an initial manufacturer recall because of an administration blunder, Canadian food safety authorities have revealed.

The Canadian Food Safety Inspection Agency (CFIA) discovered that half a dozen potentially tainted cheese and butter products, manufactured by Quebec-based 3903952 Canada Inc, were still on sale over a month after an initial voluntary recall on 11 November.

The original recall, which applied to only two products, was issued after a routine product test discovered the presence of Listeria monocytogenes bacterium.

To-date 45 cheese and dairy products have been recalled, in several recall extensions, in relation to the contamination which has left one person ill.

Production ceased

“During a review of the company’s voluntary recall it was discovered that several products had been missed,” CFIA food safety and recall specialist Garfield Balsom told FoodQualityNews.com.

“The manufacturer has ceased production at its facilities and the CFIA working with them to make sure other products manufactured by the company are safe to consume.”

The CFIA added that the source of the outbreak has yet to be identified.

“Our priority is to make sure a full recall has been issued and that future products from the manufacturer are safe to consume.”

“We are still working on identifying the source of the contamination, but our immediate concern is that all potentially contaminated products are recalled. Once that has been achieved then the investigation continues.”

Routine testing

The latest recall applies to 300-400g packs of Moujadalé, Riviera, Tressé and Vachekaval cheeses, bearing establishment number 1874, with the last best before date on the products ranging from February 2012 to November 2012.

The alert also applies to 1lb and 2lb packs of Desi Butter Ghee with the establishment number 1874. Products where the last two digits of the lot code are 45 or lower are affected by the recall.

“It originated when regional routine sampling picked up the contamination. Other products that could have been affected were identified. These items were recalled, production stopped and the company facilities were cleaned down.”

The CFIA continues to monitor the effectiveness of the recall, Balsom added.

Canadian authorities have urged caution as food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled.

Consuming listeria-contaminated food can lead to listeriosis - the potentially lethal illness which killed 30 people in a cantaloupe-related outbreak earlier this year.

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