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Sandwich meats kill 15 in Canada

The death toll from contaminated deli meats in Canada has risen to 15, health officials said, including an elderly woman who is said to have suffered terribly.

world Updated: Aug 28, 2008 08:41 IST

The death toll from contaminated deli meats in Canada has risen to 15, health officials said, including an elderly woman who is said to have suffered terribly.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said yesterday 29 cases of listeriosis were confirmed nationally, and an additional 31 suspected cases were being investigated.

The son of an elderly Ontario woman who died on Monday of a listeria infection described her death as "awful."

Frances Clark, 89, is the first person to be publicly identified as a victim of the outbreak since it was confirmed last week by health officials.

Her son Tim told a local newspaper she was taken to hospital on Friday with a high fever, extreme weakness, aches and pains, and labored breathing. By nightfall, she had fallen unconscious.

"She suffered an awful death, I'll tell you," Tim Clark told the Ottawa Citizen.

Maple Leaf Foods president Michael McCain, meanwhile, said the Toronto area plant linked to the outbreak would be closed until further notice as investigators scour for the precise source of the bacterium.

Several law firms also announced plans to file class-action lawsuits on behalf of people who have become ill from recalled Maple Leaf meat products.

And Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Gerry Ritz announced plans to hire several more food inspectors in the coming year.

On August 19, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a recall of Maple Leaf sliced corned beef, roast beef, pepperoni, salami, sausages, smoked ham, and turkey thought to be contaminated with the bacteria listeria monocytogenes.