Public Health Notice - Outbreak of Listeria infections linked to Rosemount brand cooked diced chicken

August 23, 2019 – Update

This notice has been updated to include additional information related to the outbreak investigation.

During the food safety investigation, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) identified additional affected products and updated food recall warnings have been issued.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC) has also issued a notice about an ongoing outbreak of Listeria illnesses occurring in several states. The type of Listeria identified in the U.S. is closely related genetically to the Listeria making people sick in Canada.

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Why you should take note

The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with provincial public health partners, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada to investigate an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections involving three provinces: British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario.

Based on the investigation findings to date, Rosemount brand cooked diced chicken has been identified as a likely source of the outbreak. Rosemount cooked diced chicken was supplied to institutions (including cafeterias, hospitals and nursing homes) where many of the individuals who became sick resided, or visited, before becoming ill.

On August 18, 2019 the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a food recall warning for Rosemount brand cooked diced chicken meat 13mm - ½” (#16305), packdate - 01/21/2019.  During the food safety investigation, the CFIA identified additional affected products and updated food recall warnings have been issued. For additional details on all recalled product names and lot codes, please consult CFIA's website.

Canadians are advised not to eat any of the recalled products or any foods containing the recalled products. Food service establishments are advised not to sell or serve any recalled products, or any items that may have been prepared or produced using recalled products.

The investigation is ongoing, and it is possible that more products linked to the outbreak investigation will be identified. The CFIA is continuing its food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated food recall warnings.

This public health notice will be updated as the investigation evolves.

Investigation summary

As of August 23 2019, there have been seven confirmed cases of Listeria monocytogenes illness in three provinces: British Columbia (1), Manitoba (1) and Ontario (5). Individuals became sick between November 2017 and June 2019. Six individuals have been hospitalized. Individuals who became ill are between 51 and 97 years of age. The majority of cases (86%) are female.

The collaborative outbreak investigation was initiated because of an increase of Listeria illnesses that were reported in June 2019. Through the use of a laboratory method called whole genome sequencing, two Listeria illnesses from November 2017 were identified to have the same genetic strain as the illnesses that occurred between April and June 2019.It is possible that more recent illnesses may be reported in the outbreak because of the period of time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported to public health officials. In national Listeria monocytogenes outbreak investigations, the reporting time period is usually between four and six weeks.

The U.S. CDC is also investigating an outbreak  of Listeria illnesses occurring in several states. The type of Listeria identified in the U.S. is closely related genetically (by whole genome sequencing) to the Listeria making people sick in Canada. Canada and U.S. public health and food safety partners are collaborating on these ongoing Listeria investigations.

Who is most at risk

Anyone can become sick from Listeria bacteria, but those at highest risk of serious illness include pregnant women, their unborn children and newborns, adults 65 and over, and people with weakened immune systems. In addition to not eating the recalled product, high-risk individuals should follow safe food handling practices and should always avoid high-risk food items more prone to contamination with Listeria bacteria such as:

What you should do to protect your health

Foods that are contaminated with Listeria may look, smell and taste normal. Unlike most bacteria, Listeria can survive and sometimes grow on foods being stored in the refrigerator.  Use the following food safety tips to help prevent further illnesses:

Symptoms

While many people are exposed to the Listeria bacteria, only some will become ill with listeriosis (an infection caused by Listeria bacteria). Symptoms can start as early as 3 days after eating contaminated food. You may have the following symptoms:

In severe cases, the bacteria can spread to the nervous system (the brain, spinal cord and nerves). Symptoms of severe listeriosis include:

Symptoms of severe listeriosis usually appear 2 to 3 weeks after exposure to Listeria, but in rare cases can take as long as 70 days to develop. If you have the listed symptoms, contact your health care provider. Severe vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration (loss of fluids). To protect against dehydration, drink plenty of fluids.

Pregnant women are at increased risk for infection with Listeria, although they tend not to get severely ill. However, listeriosis in pregnancy can result in serious complications that include:

Listeriosis can be treated with antibiotics, but early diagnosis is key, especially for individuals at high risk, such as pregnant women, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.

What the Government of Canada is doing

The Government of Canada is committed to food safety. The Public Health Agency of Canada leads the human health investigation into an outbreak and is in regular contact with its federal, provincial and territorial partners to monitor the situation and to collaborate on steps to address an outbreak.

Health Canada provides food-related health risk assessments to determine whether the presence of a certain substance or microorganism poses a health risk to consumers.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency conducts food safety investigations into the possible food source of an outbreak.

The Government of Canada will continue to update Canadians as new information related to this investigation becomes available.

Epidemiological information

Figure 1 below is an epidemiological curve for this outbreak. This information is used by outbreak investigators to show when illnesses begin, when they peak, and when they trail off. It can take several weeks from the time a person becomes ill to when the illness is reported and testing confirms a link to the outbreak. Data are available for seven cases.

Figure 1: Number of people infected with Listeria monocytogenes

Figure 1

Figure 1: Text description
Table 1. People confirmedFootnote * to be infected with Listeria monocytogenes by month of illness onset
Month of symptom onset Number of cases
November 2017 2
December 2017 0
January 2018 0
February 2018 0
March 2018 0
April 2018 0
May 2018 0
June 2018 0
July 2018 0
August 2018 0
September 2018 0
October 2018 0
November 2018 0
December 2018 0
January 2019 0
February 2019 0
March 2019 0
April 2019 1
May 2019 2
June 2019 2
July 2019 0
August 2019 0
Footnote *

It can take several weeks from the time a person becomes ill to when this illness is reported and testing confirms a link to the outbreak.

Return to footnote * referrer

Additional information

Media Contact

Public Health Agency of Canada
Media Relations
(613) 957-2983
hc.media.sc@canada.ca

Public Inquiries

Call toll-free: 1-866-225-0709
Email: info@hc-sc.gc.ca

Investigation History

Public Health Notice - August 19, 2019

Why you should take note

The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with provincial public health partners, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada to investigate an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections involving three provinces: British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario.

Based on the investigation findings to date, Rosemount brand cooked diced chicken has been identified as a likely source of the outbreak. Rosemount cooked diced chicken was supplied to institutions (including cafeterias, hospitals and nursing homes) where many of the individuals who became sick resided, or visited, before becoming ill.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a food recall warning for Rosemount brand cooked diced chicken meat 13mm - ½” (#16305), packdate - 01/21/2019. This product was distributed in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia and may have been distributed to other provinces and territories. The recalled product is packaged for hotels, restaurants and institutions, not for retail sales. For additional food recall details on product names and lot codes, please consult CFIA's website.

Food service establishments are advised not to sell or serve any recalled products, or any items that may have been prepared or produced using recalled products.

The investigation is ongoing, and it is possible that more products linked to the outbreak investigation will be identified. The CFIA is continuing its food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated food recall warnings.

This public health notice will be updated on a regular basis as the investigation evolves.

Investigation summary

As of August 18, 2019, there have been 7 confirmed cases of Listeria monocytogenes illness in three provinces: British Columbia (1), Manitoba (1) and Ontario (5). Individuals became sick between November 2017 and June 2019. Six individuals have been hospitalized. Individuals who became ill are between 51 and 97 years of age. The majority of cases (86%) are female.

The collaborative outbreak investigation was initiated because of an increase of Listeria illnesses that were reported in June 2019. Through the use of a laboratory method called whole genome sequencing, two Listeria illnesses from November 2017 were identified to have the same genetic strain as the illnesses that occurred between April and June 2019.
It is possible that more recent illnesses may be reported in the outbreak because of the delay between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported to public health officials. This period is called the case reporting delay. In national Listeria monocytogenes outbreak investigations, the case reporting delay is usually between 4 and 6 weeks.

What you should do to protect your health

  • If you have Rosemount brand cooked diced chicken meat 13mm - ½” (#16305), packdate - 01/21/2019 in your food establishment, do not eat the product or serve it to others.
  • Secure the product and any foods made with the product in a plastic bag, throw it out and wash your hands with warm soapy water.
  • If you are unsure whether your Rosemount brand chicken is part of the food recall warning, do not serve or consume it and throw it out.
  • Foods that are contaminated with Listeria may look, smell and taste normal. Unlike most bacteria, Listeria can survive and sometimes grow on foods being stored in the refrigerator.
  • If you suspect you have become ill from eating Rosemount brand cooked diced chicken meat, or have symptoms consistent with listeriosis, talk with your healthcare provider.
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