OTTAWA – The death toll from a listeriosis outbreak in Canada linked to products from Maple Leaf Foods has climbed to 12, according to a Canada News Service report published in the Vancouver Times Tuesday.
The Public Health Agency of Canada on Monday said there are 26 confirmed cases of listeriosis across the country stemming from contaminated meat. Eleven deaths were in Ontario and one was in British Columbia, the agency said during a news conference.
In six of the Ontario deaths, the bacterium listeria monocytogenes is being called an underlying or contributing factor to the death. The other five are still under investigation, according to the report. Maple Leaf has recalled more than 220 products as a result of the outbreak.
The Canada-wide recall is expected to cost more than $19 million. In addition to the 26 confirmed cases, another 29 cases of listeriosis have been identified and are being investigated to see whether they are linked to the current outbreak, according to the outbreak.
Still, the investigation into the cause of the outbreak is far from complete, the health agency said. Maple Leaf's Toronto plant has shut down temporarily to allow for heavy sanitizing of the facility.
Linda Smith, a spokesperson for Maple Leaf, said all the recalled meat products had been removed from stores shelves across Canada by Thursday.
However, determining where the products ended up after they were purchased by distributors — such as in hospitals or retirement homes — has been more complex.
"There is a very active effort to work with all the food distribution customers. But it is not as direct, because there are customers, and then those customers have customers," she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.