The USDA confirmed late Thursday that ground beef recalled nationwide in Canada for potential E. coli contamination had entertained the U.S. market.
Concern about ground beef produced by Alberta, Canada-based company XL Foods, Inc. was sparked when samples were tested on September 3 by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service on the U.S. border. Analysis revealed the presence of E. coli O157:H7, and a recall was called on September 16.
On September 17, several U.S. companies reported receiving meat from XL Foods. According to an FSIS release, it's still unclear if the meat those companies received went into ready-to-eat products or "received a full lethality treatment" to completely kill pathogens. In Canada, the recall includes 17 brands and 12 non-branded meats sold across the country.
Food Safety News writes that a recorded statement on XL Foods' media relations line explains what the company is doing to help investigators:
"We are working in cooperation with all processors and retailers that received this product and instructed them to remove all product from store shelves as quickly as possible ... We understand there are some illnesses being investigated to determine a link between the recalled product ... At this time no linkage has been determined."
The Canadian Press is reporting that health officials in Alberta are currently investigating five cases of E. coli infections, although they are not yet linking the sickenings to the ground beef recall.
According to the Seattle Times, ground beef from XL Foods was distributed in California, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin and may have been processed into items like ground beef patties, beef jerky and pastrami.