Contaminated meat responsible for deaths of 12 Canadians

Twelve people in Canada have died from an infection caused by eating spoiled meat, eleven in Ontario and one in British Columbia.

Canadian health officials say six of the deaths could be clearly linked to a listeriosis infection and the other six cases are still being investigated and they have attributed the deaths to spoiled meat used in ready-made meat products.

Listeriosis is a rare bacterial infection and health officials say at least 26 people may have been infected and another 29 suspected cases were still being investigated.

They say the infection's long incubation period of 70 days means more cases are a possibility.

The spoiled meat products were sold by the Toronto-based company Maple Leaf, which has now withdrawn more than 200 meat products from the market while health officials investigate all cases possibly linked to listeriosis.

The plant remains closed while a Canada-wide product recall takes place - the outbreak is expected to cost Maple Leaf more than $20 million.

Those most at risk from Listeriosis are the very young, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

Maple Leaf Foods has signed up a team of experts to help sort out the problem and are reviewing protocols; the company plans to re-open this week.

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