Neilson partly skimmed chocolate milk with best before dates up to and including June 22 was recalled due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.
Sizes 4L, 2L, 1L, 750mL, 473mL and 237mL manufactured by Saputo's Georgetown, Ontario facility are affected. They were distributed in Ontario and Quebec.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said the recall came after an investigation into a foodborne illness outbreak. It added illnesses had been reported but did not say how many.
CFIA said the investigation is ongoing and it is working with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs reviewing the company’s food safety programs and ensuring that all regulatory requirements are being met.
The agency added if positive samples are found, methods for further characterization of the isolates would include pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis and whole genome sequencing (WGS). Analyses are being done in CFIA laboratories.
"As this is an ongoing investigation, samples are still being received and many samples are still being tested. Results will be available when these analyses are completed. As with any results, they are shared with the appropriate departments/sections as soon as they are available for follow-up, if required."
FQN asked the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to clarify illness details but the agency did not respond for deadline.
Saputo said the process line on which the recalled products were manufactured remains closed.
Lino A. Saputo, Jr., CEO and vice chairman of the board, apologised to those who became ill.
"Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our products. We are doing everything within our power to ensure our products meet the high quality standards expected from us."
Saputo is one of the top ten dairy processors in the world, the largest cheese manufacturer and fluid milk and cream processor in Canada, the third largest dairy processor in Argentina, and the fourth largest in Australia.
In the US, the firm ranks among the top three cheese producers and is one of the largest producers of extended shelf-life and cultured dairy products.
Dr David Williams, chief medical officer of health in Ontario, said consumers who purchased recalled milk products should throw them out or return them to the store where they were purchased.
“Persons who believe they are ill as a result of consuming these products should contact their doctor. This is especially important for persons who are of high risk for severe illness and complications, including the elderly, people who have underlying medical conditions, compromised immune systems and pregnant women.”