If in doubt, throw it out.
Consumers who purchased beef in recent weeks should check the dates and packages, after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed the presence of E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in beef cuts shipped from the giant meat packer XL Foods in Brooks, Alta.
In what is the largest beef recall in Canadian history, the CFIA imposed a nation-wide recall on beef processed from Aug. 24 to Aug. 29 and Sept. 5 at the processing plant.
Meat that may be tainted has been sold across the country, including British Columbia outlets of the Real Canadian Superstore, Extra Foods, the Real Canadian Wholesale Club, Thrifty Foods – including the one in Abbotsford – and other large outlets.
The stores have removed the possibly affected beef items, but the CFIA cautions the public to double check dates on packages, and to contact the stores if they are uncertain if the meat is safe.
More than 1,500 beef products have been recalled, ranging from sirloin tip steaks to roasts, tenderloins, short ribs and ground beef.
Since the list is so long, consumers are advised to ask about their beef from the store where they purchased it.
If they are not sure about the safety of the beef, consumers are advised to discard the products. Although the meat may not look or smell bad, E. coli, which comes from fecal matter, may be present and can lead to illness, kidney failure and even death.
Symptoms in humans from E. coli infection may include severe abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea, and could significantly affect young children and those already dealing with compromised health. People experiencing such symptoms should see a doctor immediately. To date, nine people in Alberta are confirmed to be sick from the E. coli strain.
For specific UPC numbers and a complete list of stores that may have had affected meat, go to the CFIA website at www.inspection.gc.ca.