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The Globe and Mail

Another person sickened by E. coli as beef recall investigations widen

XL Foods' Lakeside Packers plant at Brooks, Alta., on Monday, Oct. 1st, 2012, 2012.


Another person has fallen ill after eating beef contaminated with E. coli linked to the massive recall at XL Foods.

An investigation by Alberta Health Services confirmed that the person got sick after eating steaks purchased at a Costco store in Edmonton, which the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has linked to the slaughterhouse.

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan is reporting a spike in E. coli cases – 13 in the last month – but is awaiting lab tests before connecting them to the recall. The usual number of infections for September is between zero and four.

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"Public health authorities are investigating these cases and conducting tests to determine whether they are linked to the recall," a government news release says. "Laboratory results are expected within the next few days."

The massive fallout from the E. coli outbreak continues to spread, as federal officials again updated the long list of recalled products on Tuesday.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is recalling all beef that was produced at the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta., on five days in late August and early September.

"The company has to give us information and we need to mine that information to determine where it's been sold and repackaged. And it can be sold and resold and resold to other companies who repackage it and rebrand it," said Tim O'Connor, a spokesman for the CFIA.

Mr. O'Connor said it's "quite possible that there could be more" expansions to the recall.

The recall is one of the largest in Canadian history, involving more than 1.5 million pounds of beef in every province and territory.

Of the nine other cases being investigated, four have been linked to steaks sold at an Edmonton Costco. The CFIA says the steaks passed through the XL plant.

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Workers at the plant have been told it won't reopen by Wednesday, but may reopen Thursday. Alberta's premier has called for it to reopen as soon as possible.

The recall covers more than 1,100 beef products – from ground beef to prime cuts – at more than 60 retailers, including Costco, Walmart, Safeway, Loblaws and Sobeys, spread across every province and territory as well as more than 40 states and Puerto Rico. It also includes beef sold at small retailers and butcher shops. To see the list of recalled products, click here.

The CFIA is urging consumers to contact the store to determine if beef in their freezers is affected by the recall or otherwise throw it out.

The XL Foods plant is one of the three largest slaughterhouses in Canada, processing up to 4,000 head of cattle per day. Many smaller producers buy skinned and cleaned carcasses from there.

The problems were first noted at XL Foods in Brooks, Alta., on Sept. 3 by American officials during a border stop. Routine Canadian Food Inspection Agency tests picked up a problem the next day, which was originally thought to be an isolated case. More positive tests popped up Sept. 12, and the border was closed. A recall was issued Sept. 16, but the plant was allowed to keep operating after agreeing to make changes. But when those changes weren't made fast enough, the CFIA shut it down on Sept. 27.

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