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CALGARY - The number of E. coli cases linked to the embattled XL Foods plant doubled Saturday as the list of recalled products grew again.
The Public Health Agency of Canada confirmed five new E. coli cases under investigation linked to beef that originated from the shuttered XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta.
Three cases are in Alberta and two are in Quebec. The agency said the people became sick more than two weeks ago, and all have either recovered or are recovering.
That brings to 10 the total number of E. coli illness cases linked to the tainted beef that has since been recalled across Canada and the U.S., after one case confirmed Friday in Newfoundland was added to four other known cases in Alberta.
The contamination has sparked the largest meat recall in Canadian history since it began Sept. 16.
CFIA officials said the problems began when a high volume of E. coli-positive cattle entered the plant, followed by "inconsistent" analysis of samples.
A range of issues with maintenance and sanitation have also come to light, including inappropriate washing procedures by employees tasked with sorting contaminated beef trim.
"The in-depth review determined that there was no one single factor that would lead to E. coli O157:H7 contamination; the combination of several deficiencies could have played a role," the CFIA said.
XL Foods had its licence temporarily suspended on Sept. 27.
Numerous requests for interviews from QMI Agency have thus far gone unanswered.
On Thursday, a recorded message said the company was taking responsibility and stepping up a wide range of measures "to ensure something like this never happens again."
On Saturday, the message was replaced with this: "All the members of the XL community deeply regret the illness caused from the consumption of beef products.
"Our thoughts are with the affected people at this time. We are fully committed and working diligently with the CFIA to build on many of our industry-leading practices and intensify and enhance food safety systems to exceed existing high standards and regain the trust of Canadian consumers."
An Edmonton man who became sick after eating steak from a local Costco announced earlier this week he has launched a class-action lawsuit against XL Foods.
The CFIA has been at the centre of a firestorm over why it took 12 days after first confirming the contamination for the agency to issue a warning.
Officials have said plant managers delayed several days in providing testing documents, which hindered efforts to know the full extent of the problem.
Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has come under fire for the government's handling of the situation, but he's maintained his department's officials have acted "as quickly and as responsibly as we possibly could."
An unusual number of E. coli cases have also sprung up in Saskatchewan, but none have so far been linked to the Alberta facility.
For a complete list of recalled beef products, visit inspection.gc.ca.
For a complete list of recalled beef products, visit Inspection.gc.ca.
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