Health Canada recalls frozen fruit due to norovirus concerns: 'Do not consume'

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a recall for two kinds of Alasko-brand frozen fruit due to possible norovirus contamination.

split screen of norovirus raspeberries Canadian Food Inspection Agency
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a recall for two kinds of Alasko brand frozen fruit due to possible norovirus contamination (photos via Canadian Food Inspection Agency).

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a recall for two kinds of frozen fruit due to possible norovirus contamination.

The recall has been issued for two varieties of Alasko-brand frozen fruit: IQF Whole Raspberries and IQF Antioxidant Blend in one-kilogram and five-kilogram packages.

The frozen fruit was distributed throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. The affected raspberries have a best-before date of Aug. 15, 2024, and the Antioxidant Blend's best-before date is Oct. 11, 2023.

There have been reported cases of norovirus linked to the consumption of Alasko-brand frozen fruit, prompting the CFIA to conduct a food safety investigation.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a recall for two kinds of Alasko brand frozen fruit due to possible norovirus contamination (photo via Canadian Food Inspection Agency).
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a recall for two kinds of Alasko brand frozen fruit due to possible norovirus contamination (photo via Canadian Food Inspection Agency).

The agency notes that people with norovirus illness usually develop symptoms of gastroenteritis within 24 to 48 hours, but symptoms can start as early as 12 hours after exposure.

Norovirus is a highly contagious stomach bug that often gets mistaken for the flu. It also causes headaches, diarrhea, vomiting, fever and stomach pain.

11 foods you didn't know could cause food poisoning

Food poisoning happens when eating something that contains a dangerous germ, such as E. coli. Some foods, such as undercooked chicken and unpasteurized milk, are notorious culprits.

Other foods are less known to cause food poisoning but still come with risks. Here are 11 lesser-known foods that can cause food poisoning, plus the safety practices that can help you avoid getting sick.

1. Berries

This high-profile risk gets top billing because of a recent outbreak in the U.S., where at least five people contracted Hepatitis A after eating contaminated frozen strawberries. A similar outbreak happened in 2022 in Alberta and Saskatchewan, this time from fresh strawberries.

Berries are a high risk food for contaminants because they grow close to the ground.

Always wash your berries before eating, and avoid buying the frozen kind when possible. The freezing process is another manufacturing step where contamination can happen.

2. Raw or pressed juices

Most store-bought juices go through the pasteurization process, which briefly exposes the juice to an intense heat that kills harmful microbes.

Raw and pressed juices are unpasteurized. They can contain multiple types of bacteria, including E. coli, salmonella, giardia and norovirus.

Norovirus is the "nasty, days-long" stomach bug the CBC reports circulating at high levels in Canada.

Organic cold-pressed raw vegetable juices in glass bottles. Raw fruits can cause food poisoning.
Organic cold-pressed raw vegetable juices can cause food poisoning as they don't include the pasteurization process.

3. Eggs

In 2021, a Salmonella outbreak sickened 70 people and hospitalized 19 in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. The Public Health Agency of Canada traced the outbreak back to a perennial breakfast favourite — the egg.

Raw eggs are often contaminated with salmonella bacteria, but proper handling prevents most food poisoning.

To reduce your risk, cook eggs to at least 74 degrees Celsius and avoid eating "runny" eggs.

4. Rice

...Wait, rice? The bland dietary staple recommended for upset stomachs?


A bowl of rice is seen on a brown mat. Cooked rice unrefrigerated can cause food poisoning.
Rice should be stored in the refrigerator within an hour of serving to prevent harmful bacteria forming.

Scientists at McGill University reported that improper cooking or storage of rice could expose you to a bacteria called bacillus cereus, which can cause vomiting if ingested.

Cooking rice kills off most of the B. cereus spores. But, if you leave the rice sitting in an environment between 10 and 50 degrees Celsius, the spores will start to reproduce.

The best way to keep bacteria from growing is to eat your rice as soon as it's done cooking or keep it heated at a temperature of 60 degrees Celsius or above. As soon as you're done serving, refrigerate the rice below 5 degrees Celsius. Chill it within an hour of cooking if possible.

5. Raw flour

Eating raw dough or batter can make you sick — but eggs aren't always the culprit. Raw flour can be just as dangerous.

Between December 2016 and April 2017, Canadian authorities confirmed 30 cases of food poisoning due to the O121 strain of E. coli bacteria. More than half of the patients had either cooked with a certain brand of flour or been near someone who had.

But the cooking wasn't the problem. These patients consumed the flour in its raw version — some intentionally, some by accident.

E. coli contaminates flour during the growing and cultivation process. Only heat can kill it, but heat isn't part of the flour milling process. To get rid of E. coli, you have to bake it.

But take heart, cookie dough lovers — you can make edible cookie dough if you heat-treat your flour first.

A pan of freshly prepared homemade chocolate chip cookie dough sits on the counter waiting to go into the oven.
A pan of freshly prepared homemade chocolate chip cookie dough sits on the counter waiting to go into the oven.

6. Undercooked red kidney beans

Kidney beans are low in saturated fat, high in fibre and rich in nutrients. They may even reduce your risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, according to Ontario Bean Growers.

Just make sure you cook them first.

According to Health Canada, raw or undercooked red kidney beans contain high levels of a toxic plant protein called lectin. When ingested, lectins can cause extreme nausea followed by diarrhea, vomiting and possibly abdominal pain.

To avoid ingesting the toxic protein, soak and thoroughly cook any dry red kidney beans you use in your cooking.

7. Sprouts

Sprouts are a low-calorie, high-fibre baby vegetable. They can be magnets for bacteria, especially E. coli and salmonella, because they have no peels or rinds. Germs can hop onto sprouts anywhere between the farm and your table.

If you're a sprout lover, don't worry — you can still enjoy these healthy treats. Start with crisp and fresh sprouts, and keep them refrigerated from the store to the frying pan.

Most importantly, cook them on high heat before eating.

8. Leafy greens

Like sprouts, leafy greens such as spinach and lettuce are vulnerable to contamination. They can easily come into contact with salmonella or E. coli during the cultivation or transportation processes.

Always wash leafy greens with cool running water, ensuring all dirt is washed away. If you buy pre-washed greens, refrigerate until you're ready to eat them. Consume within seven days and discard them if the leaves appear wilted or brown.

Leafy greens salad, kale, cabbage are seen on a white background. Leafy greens can cause food poisoning.
Leafy greens can easily come into contact with harmful bacteria during cultivation or transportation processes.

9. Melons

Melons grow close to the ground and can easily come into contact with bacteria. Those bacteria, especially Salmonella, can live a long time on rinds — and easily transfer to the melon itself when you cut it.

Unless melons stay refrigerated at 10 degrees Celsius or below, salmonella can double every half hour.

Only buy pre-cut melon if you know it's less than four days old — and if it's that old, eat it immediately. It's safer to cut your own melons, but even then, throw them out if they've been at room temperature for two hours or more.

10. Rotisserie chicken

Rotisserie chicken from the grocery store may be convenient, but compared to home-cooked poultry, it's more likely to reach unsafe temperatures.

Like rice, cooked chicken must be either refrigerated or consistently hot to be safe. According to the Chicken Farmers of Canada, cooked chicken shouldn't cool below 60 degrees Celsius.

It's hard to be sure whether that tasty-looking rotisserie has been under a heat lamp since it was cooked — or whether it will stay hot long enough to get it home.

Packed roast chicken place on the shelf waiting to sale in the market deli section. It could cause food poisoning.
Store-bought rotisserie chicken is more likely to reach unsafe temperatures than home-cooked poultry.

11. Sprouted potatoes

When sprouts start growing from your potato's eyes, it might be time to toss the spud.

Sprouts on potatoes contain a toxin called solanine, which causes digestive symptoms. It famously sickened 109 students in an Alberta school in the early ‘80s.

Eating potatoes before they sprout is safest. You may be able to eat some sprouted potatoes if you cut out the sprouts, provided the flesh isn't discoloured.

When in doubt, though, throw it out.

How to avoid foodborne illness

The best way to stay safe from food poisoning is still to wash your hands, cook food thoroughly and rinse your produce. If you're ever in doubt about whether a food is safe, check Health Canada for tips and helpful information.

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