OTTAWA – A total of 12 deaths have now been linked to an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes. The news comes as China put a halt to all imports of Maple Leaf Foods Ltd. products.

Reports said health officials confirmed Monday that the latest death from the listeria outbreak occurred in Ontario. No details on the victim were given.

Seven more deaths - five in Ontario, one in Saskatchewan and one in Quebec - are still under investigation by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to determine if they were a result from the same strain of Listeria.

In total, there are a total of 38 confirmed cases and 21 suspected cases of listeriosis nationwide as of Monday. These cases are at the centre of a massive tainted deli-meat recall by Maple Leaf.

The outbreak has also reportedly resulted in China informing Canadian officials late last week that they will no longer be accepting any more imports of sausage casings from Maple Leaf over fears that it was contaminated with Listeria.

But Paul Mayers, a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) spokesman, said the sausage casings in question are produced at another meat plant and are not affected by the potentially deadly bacterium.

“The plant where the sausage casings are made are not impacted by the Listeria recall,'' he said. “We're working with to explain to them that the plant impacted was not exporting products. We will work quickly with them to resolve the issue.''

Mayers said he does not expect other countries to halt imports from Maple Leaf.


Source: Canwest News Service