BEIJING (AP) -- China's food safety watchdog has banned imports of meat from a Canadian company linked to a deadly bacterial outbreak that has killed 15 in Canada.
China's Inspection and Quarantine Bureau said it had stopped meat imports from Toronto-based Maple Leaf Foods after test results showed that the deaths were caused by a Listeria bacteria outbreak in the company's ready-to-eat meats.
Although the contaminated meats were not exported to China, customs officials have been asked to be on alert for shipments that may have slipped in, the bureau said in a statement seen Monday on its Web site.
Canada also banned all meat exports from Maple Leaf Foods following the outbreak.
Listeria bacteria is a type of food poisoning that can be dangerous to people with compromised immune systems. Symptoms include fever, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Listeriosis can lead to life-threatening encephalitis and meningitis, as well as brain and blood infections. Those at greatest risk are pregnant women because listeriosis can provoke miscarriage and stillbirth, and infect the fetus.
Since the outbreak less than two weeks ago, the president of Maple Leaf Foods has taken responsibility for remedying the disaster.
China bans the import of Japanese beef over fears of mad cow disease. Earlier this year, China banned sales of Italian mozzarella cheese after Italy recalled the product because of potentially cancer-causing dioxins, but lifted the ban shortly after the product was deemed safe.