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Nova Scotia man recounts salmonella infection linked to chicken burger recall

Rodney Humphery stands by the freezer where his wife Marian had stored the chicken burgers for the Public Health Agency of Canada for testing until they were picked up June 1 – the day before a recall was issued.
Rodney Humphery stands by the freezer where his wife Marian had stored the chicken burgers for the Public Health Agency of Canada for testing until they were picked up June 1 – the day before a recall was issued. - Sara Ericsson

‘I didn’t think I would live’

LOWER PROSPECT, N.S.  — Rodney Humphrey believed he was dying when a serious infection, later confirmed to be salmonella, took over his body.

After the infection set in on March 27, Humphrey, 69, said he couldn’t go five minutes without running for the washroom. He was vomiting and suffered from diarrhea. When blood clots began appearing in his stool, he went to the doctor to get tested. His son Troy and wife Marian, 67, carried him because he couldn’t walk.

“His clots were so large they would not flush,” said Marian Humphrey, who also believed her husband was dying. He said he did not go sooner because he couldn’t make it beyond the house without needing to vomit or defecate.

Stool sample results on April 10 confirmed it was salmonella and Humphrey says his doctor called the Public Health Agency of Canada that day to say he believed the infection came from No Name chicken burgers — the only thing Humphrey said he ate.

The agency called them that day but didn’t collect the remaining burgers until June 1.

“They called and said they’d sent the burgers in to the (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) for testing, but that was it — it was like they didn’t want us to know,” said Marian Humphrey.

The couple was shocked when the recall notice hit the news the next day.

Humphrey said he has eaten this variety of chicken burger before without issue, and described what happened after he ate two of them cooked by his wife, who maintains she followed package instructions.

“The next day, I didn’t feel right. The day after that, it began — everything just came up. I went back to bed and not a minute later I was up getting sick again,” he said.

Humphrey spent much of the day in the bathroom. By day 4, blood began appearing in his stool. Four days later, large clots were showing up.

“I thought I was dying, I really did,” said Humphrey.

It’s been more than two months and he says he still can’t stand for long periods and feels tired for most of the day.

“It got to a point where I didn’t think I would live, and I didn’t care.”

He said his doctor described his infection as “serious” and worse than most. Humphrey lost more than 15 pounds in 12 days, which he said his doctor said was significant considering his normal weight is just 130 pounds.

“He looked like a ghost — he was so cold and frozen and curled up in blankets,” said his son, Travis.

Since the recall in June there have been 59 confirmed salmonella infections in Canada. Several were linked to No Name burgers, the rest from other types of chicken products. Only one of the cases was in Nova Scotia. Ten people were hospitalized.

“I don’t think I’ll be eating chicken burgers any time soon,” Humphrey says.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has confirmed chicken burgers purchased in Nova Scotia were sent to the CFIA for testing, but could not confirm the results due to privacy concerns.

Loblaw Atlantic Director of Corporate Affairs Mark Boudreau also commented on the matter.

“As soon as we were aware there may be an increased risk for customers, we immediately voluntarily recalled the product. The safety of our customers is not something we take lightly,” he said in an email.

The recall covered No Name one-kilogram packages of chicken burgers with a best before date of Feb. 6, 2019.

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