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    Yellowknife restaurants join meat recall

    Lauren McKeon
    Northern News Services
    Published Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - Restaurants in Yellowknife have yanked potentially tainted meat from their menus.

    The move follows a weekend announcement by health officials confirming the link between Maple Leaf products and a bacteria strain responsible for at least four deaths across Canada.

    The strain, named Listeria monocytogenes, is also connected to at least 20 confirmed cases - and another 30 under investigation - in four provinces including Ontario, B.C., Saskatchewan and Quebec.

    There have been no reported cases in the NWT.

    However, the product recall list has jumped to 220 items from about 20 and now includes shaved turkey sold to McDonald's and shaved roast beef sold to Boston Pizza.

    The recall list also includes Tim Hortons slow roast beef, which the company said was no longer offered as of early July.

    Boston Pizza manager Doreen Benort said her restaurant pulled the product immediately after the recall came in.

    "We're going to keep it off until everything is settled. We're not taking a chance on this," she said.

    Yellowknife McDonald's manager Mike Rolph is just as cautious.

    "We won't be serving it until McDonald's Canada gives us the approval to go ahead," he said.

    Stanton Territorial Hospital was also affected by the recall. Late last week, the hospital released a statement regarding 43 potentially contaminated corned beef sandwiches served through its food services. Acting CEO Al Woods yanked the sandwiches, along with all of its other Maple Leaf brand products.

    "We didn't want the following day to have the list expanded again," Woods said, noting corned beef was added to the recall list.

    An expanded list, of course, is exactly what happened only a few days after Woods pulled the brand.

    Included on the new recall list are Maple Leaf products sold under the Schneiders, Hygrade, Parma, Hickory Farms, Shopsy's, Western Family, Artisan Collection, Compliments, Campfire, Overlander and Safeway names.

    A full list of recalled products can be found on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) website. Consumers should be aware tainted meat may not look or smell spoiled.

    "If (you) have any items that are included in the recall, discard them," said environmental health officer Tanja Rarog. "If there is any doubt, throw it out."

    In addition to accessing the list on the CFIA website, consumers can also look for the now infamous number 97B, which is displayed on the packaging and indicates the plant of origin - in this case the affected plant in Toronto.

    Symptoms can mimic the flu and can include high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, nausea, vomiting, cramps and diarrhea. The window for symptoms is wide and can appear from anywhere between two and 30 days - and even up to 70 days - of eating the contaminated product.

    Rarog warned the severity of symptoms can vary, however.

    "It depends on the population affected," she said. "Usually young healthy adults have more resistance to the infection. They can experience sort of mild flu-like symptoms.

    "But there are high-risk populations as well," she added. "They include elderly, people with weak immune systems, pregnant women."

    The infection in pregnant women can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn and even stillbirth. In others, mainly the very young, the elderly or those with weak immune systems, flu-like symptoms may be followed by brain or blood infection, either of which can result in death.

    Those experiencing symptoms are advised to visit their local health centre or to call the Tele-Care Health line at 1-800-255-1010.