The Canadian government is to launch an independent investigation into the recent outbreak of listeriosis food poisoning linked to tainted meat.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters in Windsor, Ontario yesterday (3 September) that he was "troubled" by the outbreak, both as a father whose family buys and uses some of the products and as the head of a government that has made substantial investments in the food safety system.

To date, the bacteria has been linked to 19 deaths, 13 where listeriosis was the underlying or contributing cause and six where its role was under investigation.

The outbreak involves deli-style products from Maple Leaf Foods. Canada's largest meat processor first recalled its roast and corned beef products on 18 August and has since moved to expand its recall to include all products produced at its Toronto manufacturing site.

Harper said he would "set up the investigation" once the outbreak is over so the federal government can "get to the bottom" of what happened.

Meanwhile, The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) issued a statement to say it is continuing to collaborate with provincial and local health authorities in affected provinces, Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to investigate the increase in cases of listeriosis.