Canada investigates E. coli outbreak, recalls Fresh Express salad

Canada investigates E. coli outbreak, recalls Fresh Express salad

See updated story, in which U.S. health officials have named the Fresh Express salad as the cause of an outbreak.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has recalled Fresh Express’ Sunflower Crisp Chopped Salad Kit with romaine from Salinas, Calif., linking it to 16 cases of E. coli in Canada.

In Dec. 8 public health notices, the CFIA and the Public Health Agency of Canada said they are investigating the cases in five eastern provinces. Although the health agency reported the Fresh Express kits are the likely source “based on investigation findings to date,” no specifics are given.

The notices do not refer to the current outbreak of E. coli in the U.S. involving 102 patients that the Food and Drug Administration has linked to Salinas romaine, or the FDA investigation into the outbreak.

The CFIA recall covers the Sunflower Crisp Chopped Kit, 315 grams, with a Universal Product Code of 0 71279 30906 4, including all packages with “best before” dates of Dec. 7, lot codes beginning with “Z” and indicating Salinas as a source of the romaine lettuce.

The CFIA notes that it’s unlikely the kits are available at stores (the FDA on Nov. 22 advised consumers, retailers and others not to eat, sell or serve romaine products grown in the Salinas area), but that consumers who purchased the salads might still have them.

The salads were sold in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The CFIA was not immediately available to comment on whether testing on the salad kits or patients have been completed, or if a genetic link to the U.S. outbreak has been established or ruled out.

Related stories:

UPDATED: E. coli outbreak numbers grow while investigation continues

FDA: Do not eat Salinas romaine, E. coli traceback continues