When the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) announced that it was investigating a Listeria outbreak back in August it already knew some key facts. The outbreak had sickened seven Canadians in three different provinces. It was linked to Rosemount brand cooked, diced chicken. And genetic tests showed the illnesses were caused by a strain of Listeria that closely resembled (they never use the word matched) a strain linked to an outbreak in the U.S. Health officials in the U.S. said a Listeria outbreak here had sickened 24 people killing two of them but the food source of the outbreak had not yet been determined.

Two and a half months later, public health officials in both countries have wrapped up their investigations and, aside from a bunch of cooked chicken recalls, none of the keys facts have changed. The good news is that no additional illnesses were reported. The bad news is that despite sharing an intertwined timeline with the Canadian outbreak, the U.S. outbreak remained unsolved.

Here’s how that timeline unfolded:

August 17, 2019, Tip Top Poultry headquarters, Rockmart, GA – Tip Top Poultry is notified by Canadian health officials that ten cases of product packed on 1/21/2019  were tested and one was positive for Listeria.

August 18, 2019, Canada – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) posts a recall by Rosemount Sales and Marketing of Waterloo, ON. The recall is for Rosemount brand cooked, diced chicken with the UPC 2 06 20263 12454 7 and a pack date of 01/21/2019 that is potentially contaminated with Listeria. The recall notice references an investigation of illnesses by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

Note: Some information about Rosemount that is not included in the recall is that Rosemount is a brokerage company that represents meat and poultry manufacturers and has a private label operation to manufacture products that are then sold under a variety of brand names. The company’s website features several brand names Including Vanee, Wentzel Farms, Superior Farms, Rosemount and Tip Top.

August 19, 2019, Canada – PHAC announces that a Listeria outbreak that has sickened seven people in three Canadian provinces is linked to Rosemount brand cooked diced chicken. It states that a recall of Rosemount cooked, diced chicken has been issued and that the ongoing investigation may lead to the identification of other products.

August 20, 2019, U.S. – Tip Top Poultry of Rockmart, GA announced it was recalling cooked, diced chicken with a pack date of 1/21/ 2019 and sold to hotels and restaurants nationwide under the brand names Tip Top, Perdue, Gordon, West Creek and Sysco. The Tip Top cooked chicken recall states that the problem had been discovered by PHAC during its investigation of an outbreak.

August 21, 2019, Canada – CFIA posts a recall of Reuvan International brand cooked diced chicken and Sysco brand cooked, shredded chicken. All products with the same pack date: 1/21/ 2019.

August 22, 2019, Tip Top Poultry headquarters, Rockmart, GA – Tip Top retains a third-party sanitation firm to review its sanitation program, create a plan to clean its plant and oversee the cleaning process.

August 23, 2019, Canada – PHAC updates its outbreak report to say additional products have been recalled and that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating a Listeria outbreak in the U.S. caused by a Listeria strain closely resembling the Rosemount chicken Listeria outbreak strain.

August 23, 2019, U.S. – The CDC announces it was investigating a Listeria outbreak that has sickened 24 people killing two of them. The CDC states that a genetic testing process called Whole Genome Sequencing has shown that the outbreak strain closely resembles the outbreak strain in Canada. These same tests have also shown that all of the American case-patients had been sickened by the same strain which means they likely all ate the same contaminated food.

August 30, 2019 -September 2, 2019, Tip Top Poultry headquarters, Rockmart, GA – Tip Top shuts down production at its Rockmart plant to conduct a thorough cleaning.

September 25, 2019, Tip Top Poultry headquarters, Rockmart, GA – Tip Top is notified by Canadian health officials that 85 samples were pulled from a truck entering Canada and tested. One of them is positive for Listeria.

September 26, 2019, Tip Top Poultry headquarters, Rockmart, GA  – Tip Top sends a representative to British Columbia to inspect product and warehouse conditions.

September 27, 2019, Tip Top Poultry headquarters, Rockmart, GA  – Tip Top retains an “expert third-party consultant.”

September 27, 2019, Canada – CFIA posts a recall by Reuvan International and Rosemount Sales and Marketing for various cooked, diced chicken products with a pack date of 07/29/19. The recalled brands include Tip Top, Reuvan, Sysco and Alim Plus.

September 27, 2019, Tip Top Poultry headquarters, Rockmart, GA  – Tip Top is notified by Canadian health officials Listeria was found in three cases from at least two of the following date codes 07/08/19, 08/07/19, 08/09/19 and 08/16/19.

September 28, 2019, Tip Top Poultry headquarters, Rockmart, GA – Tip Top issues a recall for all cooked meat items produced between from 1/22/19 and 9/24/19 with item codes in the ranges 10000-19999 and 70000-79999.

September 30, 2019, Canada – CFIA posts a recall by Industry, Olymel S.E.C., Reuven International Ltd, and  Rosemount Sales and Marketing for “Various imported cooked diced chicken meat products recalled due to Listeria monocytogenes.” The brand names of the recalled products include Reuvan, Tip Top, Sysco, Flamingo, Rosemount, Centennial and Alum Plus. The recalled products have pack dates ranging from 1/21/19 to 9/24/19.

October 1, 2019 – October 9, 2019 – U.S. – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posts recalls from eight companies recalling sandwiches, wraps and other products made with the recalled chicken.

October 1, 2019, – October 10, 2019, Canada – CFIA posts recalls from 10 companies recalling sandwiches, wraps and other products made with the recalled chicken.

October 2, 2019, Canada – PHAC issues an update on the outbreak noting that there have been additional recalls.

November 1, 2019, Canada – PHAC issues its final report on the outbreak in Canada, The case count remained unchanged. In total there were seven illnesses in three provinces.

November 7, 2019, U.S. – The CDC announces that the U.S. Listeria outbreak, which still includes 24 illnesses and two deaths, appears to be over and it is ending its investigation. Investigators from state and federal agencies worked collaboratively but were not able to “identify a specific food item, grocery store, food processor, or restaurant chain as the source of infections,” the CDC said.


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