OICC call #4

Day 29: Friday June 5, 2020 (n=16)

  •  You provide a summary of the results from the loyalty card information received with OICC members:
    • Loyalty card information was obtained for four cases.
    • This information confirmed that two cases (ON-14 and BC-15) that reported consuming “Smile” brand chia seeds had purchased this product.
    • This information also identified two additional cases (BC-11 and BC-16) that purchased “Smile” brand chia seeds. These two cases reported consuming chia seeds during re-interview, but could not recall the brand name of the product.
  • British Columbia reports that the local health authority has submitted a chia seed sample (“Smile” brand) from one of their cases’ homes to the CFIA laboratory for testing. The case had an unopened package available for testing. The case was able to find the package of consumed chia seeds in their garbage and was able to confirm the lot code on this package matches the lot code on the unopened package of chia seeds submitted for laboratory testing.
  • Alberta reports that the local health authority has also submitted a chia seed sample (“Nature’s Planet” brand) from one of their cases’ homes to the CFIA laboratory for testing. They also clarified that the package of chia seeds was opened. 
  • Ontario reports that the local health authority followed up with the independent grocery store where ON-08 reported purchasing chia seeds. The grocery store reported that they sell “Smile” and “Nature’s Planet” brand chia seeds.
  • CFIA has been conducting a detailed traceback investigation based on the information provided off of the product packages from the two cases’ homes (in British Columbia and Alberta). The investigation revealed that the chia seeds from the two different brands were in fact packaged at the same facility in Ontario. Inspection of the facility has begun. The company is very cooperative. The two implicated brands are primarily distributed in Ontario, but also in British Columbia, Alberta, and to a smaller extent in Quebec. The chia seeds were packaged in mid-April (April 14-15, 2020) and shipment to distribution centres (and subsequently grocery stores) started on April 16, 2020. No other brands or products are packaged at this facility. Environmental samples from the facility as well as samples of the implicated products, products packaged before and those packaged after the implicated time frame, have been obtained for testing by CFIA.
  • Members of the OICC agree that it is time to consider prevention and control measures, specifically recalling these products and issuing public communications. In order to recall a product, a Health Risk Assessment is required, which includes an Epidemiological assessment or “Epi assessment” (see Module 3 – Exercise 4).
  • Members of the OICC further agree that a separate call to discuss public communications will be scheduled, since public communications may include both a recall notice and a public health notice. The public health notice goes beyond a recall notice, and will include high-level information about the investigation as well as general food safety advice. A separate call is required since messages and web postings need to be coordinated with all of the provinces involved. The call is led by the communications team.

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