Hepatitis A case at 2 Edmonton-area Edo restaurants

Alberta Health Services is warning customers of two Edmonton-area Edo Japan restaurants that they may have been exposed to hepatitis A.

hep.aedo-japanAHS said it confirmed a case of the infection in a food handler who works at two Edo restaurants in the Capital Region – the Manning Town Centre location in Edmonton and the Tudor Glen Market location in St. Albert.

People who consumed food from the above locations between June 13 and 18, 2016 and June 21 and 28, 2016 may have been exposed to hepatitis A, AHS said Tuesday afternoon.

“While we believe the risk to the public is low, hepatitis A is a serious infection,” Dr. Joanna Oda, medical officer of health with the AHS Edmonton Zone, said.

Hepatitis A can be spread through the fecal-oral route, direct contact with an infected person or by ingesting contaminated food or water. If an infected person does not property wash his or her hands after using the washroom, the virus can be transmitted through food and beverages prepared by the infected individual.

Anyone who ate food from either Edo location is urged to monitor themselves and their family members for symptoms of hepatitis A until Aug. 17. 

 

Health Canada proposes rules for veterinary drugs in livestock

John Cotter of Canadian Press reports the Canadian government is proposing new rules for veterinary drugs used in livestock as it works to reduce human health risks associated with resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobials.

ab.prudentHealth Canada says the decreasing effectiveness of antimicrobials is having a significant impact on the government’s ability to protect Canadians from infectious diseases.

“The overuse and misuse of antimicrobials in animals is a contributing factor to the development and spread of AMR (antimicrobial-resistance),” reads a summary of the proposed rules.

“The development of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens in animals can pose serious risks to human health when they are transmitted as food-borne or water-borne contaminants. Antimicrobial-resistant infections are associated with a greater risk of death, more complex illnesses, longer hospital stays and higher treatment costs.”

The department says current regulations do not provide the necessary regulatory oversight to mitigate the risk.

The proposed changes would restrict the importation of some veterinary drugs used in livestock, require drug manufacturers to follow stricter rules regarding the quality of active ingredients and allow for increased monitoring of drug sales.

The department is seeking feedback on the proposals until Sept. 8.

Health Canada says the proposed changes will align Canada with policies in the United States and the European Union.

32 sick: Food-poisoning cases involved Hong Kong restaurant

The health department’s Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said on Tuesday that an investigation into a recent food-poisoning case has determined that all the affected persons had dined at a restaurant in North Point.

LARGE-sashimi-zumaDSC_8042-3The victims suffered from abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea about two to 24 hours after having dinner at a restaurant on June 25 and 26, it said in a statement.

The statement did not identify the restaurant, but RTHK reported earlier that several people became ill after eating sashimi, lobster and Peking duck at Harbour Grand Cafe in Harbour Grand Hong Kong Hotel.

The CHP said Tuesday that it has identified eight food-poisoning clusters affecting 32 people.

The victims comprised 13 males and 19 females, with their ages ranging from 1 to 73.

Twenty-four of them sought medical consultation but none required hospitalization. All of the affected persons are currently in stable condition.

This brings the total number of persons affected by food-poisoning to 74 so far, comprising 29 males and 45 females aged 1 to 79.

The CHP said it has alerted the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department about the latest incident and that investigations are ongoing.

There are Canadians ill from Listeria linked to chocolate milk

Last weekend I was in Canada and visited a grocery store to pick up some of the things we can’t get easily in the U.S. like chocolate bars and some maple syrup. Walking down the dairy aisle I spied something I forgot about after spending eight years in ‘murica: Neilson brand chocolate milk – in bags.20160603da_1465006294503_eng

The same stuff, according to CFIA, that was just recalled after being linked to an unknown number of listeriosis illnesses (how many? that’s anyone’s guess).

Saputo Inc. is recalling Neilson brand Partly Skimmed Chocolate Milk from the marketplace due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Consumers should not consume the recalled product described below.

Recalled products
Brand Name Common Name Size Code(s) on Product UPC
Neilson Partly Skimmed Chocolate Milk, 1% m.f. 4 L Bag clip: 1590JN01H8
Inner bag: BB/MA JN 01 2016 0 66800 00047 3
What you should do
If you think you became sick from eating a recalled product, call your doctor.

This recall was triggered by findings by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) during its investigation into a foodborne illness outbreak. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing recalled products from the marketplace.

Maybe the Public Health Agency of Canada or the Provincial health folks will let folks know how many illnesses, how they linked them, what the timeframe was – sorta like CDC does.

Doering: Label raw milk cheese

Ronald L. Doering, BA, LL.B. MA, LL.D., a past president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and now counsel in the Ottawa offices of Gowling WLG, writes in his Food in Canada column that the science keeps piling up.

ron.doeringIt is not safe to consume raw milk and its products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced studies that show again that pathogens from raw milk including tuberculosis, diphtheria, typhoid, Salmonella, Listeria, and many other bacterial infections make it unsafe for human consumption. A comprehensive study was released last month by Belgian authorities that concluded that “raw milk poses a realistic health threat due to possible contamination with human pathogens.” Interestingly, the same study found that there was “no substantial change in the nutritional value of raw milk or other benefits associated with raw milk consumption,” but that’s a story for another day. And, of course, the unfortunate proof keeps coming, with hundreds of outbreaks, many deaths and thousands of illnesses just in the last few years due to raw milk and raw milk cheese.

Just because raw milk and raw milk cheese are not as safe as if they were pasteurized doesn’t necessarily mean that they should be banned. That is why regulations around the world are so inconsistent. The sale of raw milk is illegal in Scotland, but legal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (indeed our future king will drink nothing else, a fact that could be used by both sides of the debate!). South of the border the states are roughly evenly divided, but interstate commerce is banned. Raw milk and most raw milk cheeses are banned in Australia but legal in New Zealand. In Canada, the sale of raw milk directly to consumers is prohibited by a variety of provincial provisions and it is a federal crime to sell unpasteurized milk under B.08.002.2(1) of the Food and Drug Regulations.

Canada continues to allow the sale of raw milk cheeses aged over 60 days, but provides this clear warning: “Health Canada’s ongoing advice to pregnant women, children, older adults and people with a weakened immune system is to avoid eating cheese made from raw milk as it does present a higher risk of foodborne illness than pasteurized milk cheeses. If consumers are unsure whether a cheese is made from pasteurized milk, they should check the label or ask the retailer.”

raw-milk-cheeseWhen I first wrote about this issue three years ago I pointed out the regulatory absurdity of the last sentence in the Health Canada (HC) warning. There is no requirement to label and most retailers have no idea if the cheese is made from raw milk, and have no means to determine if it is. At the time I received an informal response to my article from a senior official advising me that before moving to mandatory labelling, HC was going to partner with FDA to do a risk assessment of raw milk cheese, focusing specifically on the risk of illness from Listeria monocytogenes. The results of this risk assessment were released last summer: “The risk of listeriosis from the consumption of soft-ripened cheese made from raw milk is substantially larger than that for consumption of soft-ripened cheese made from pasteurized milk and the 60-day aging regulation actually increases the risk of listeriosis for consumption of raw milk cheeses.” The risk was found to be from 50 to 160 times greater. This resulted in HC issuing a Voluntary Guidance to manufacturers that included suggestions to industry to do regular testing of both the raw milk and the cheese and that “Manufacturers should consider labelling their products with the words ‘made from raw or unpasteurized milk’ on the front panel display and/or in the list of the ingredients.”

The Guidance document seeks feedback from stakeholders before developing new “policy and/or regulatory options.” Here’s mine, again: stop the bureaucratic dithering and do what the Americans, Brits and Europeans have already done – make it mandatory for all manufacturers to label their raw milk cheeses. It’s useless, as they say, to try to reason someone out of something they didn’t reason themselves into, so if we can’t stop people from consuming raw milk and its products, then let’s at least ensure that it is not consumed unknowingly particularly by children, the elderly or expectant mothers. HC now requires unpasteurized juice to be labelled. Who’s against mandatory labelling of raw milk cheese?

Parasites at retail: Not so much (cause testing don’t tell ya much)

Cyclospora and Cryptosporidium are protozoan parasites which infect humans, primarily through contaminated food and water. Cyclospora is endemic in a number of subtropical and tropical countries. Cryptosporidium infection can be found in people worldwide. Cyclospora and Cryptosporidium infections can cause mild to severe gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms including, but not limited to, diarrhea, weight loss, cramping, flatulence, nausea, fatigue and low grade fever.

basil.salmonellaCyclospora and Cryptosporidium were ranked 13th and 5th, respectively, out of 24 parasites in overall global ranking for their public health importance by a Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) expert committee (September 3 to 7, 2012). Produce such as fresh herbs and berries have been identified in the past as sources of Cyclospora and Cryptosporidium contamination in Canada. This survey focused on fresh herbs, berries, green onions and mushrooms.

The objective of this survey was to determine the occurrence and distribution of Cyclospora and Cryptosporidium contamination in fresh produce such as herbs, berries, mushrooms and green onions. A total of 1,590 samples were analyzed for the presence of Cyclospora and 1,788 samples were analyzed for Cryptosporidium. Samples were collected at retail from various regions across Canada between May 2011 and March 2013.

raspberryOf the samples analyzed for Cyclospora, none were positive for the parasite. Of the samples analyzed for Cryptosporidium, six samples of green onions, one sample of parsley, and one sample of mushroom were positive, however, the analytical method used to detect the parasites in the samples cannot determine if the parasite is viable and potentially infectious. It is important to note that there were no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of the products found to be positive for Cryptosporidium. Positive results are followed up by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). In this case, because of the perishable nature of the products and the time elapsed between sample pick up and the completion of analysis, the fresh product was no longer available on the market when the parasite was detected. As such, no direct follow up was possible. This information was used to inform CFIA’s programs and inspection activities.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulates and provides oversight to the industry, works with provinces and territories, and promotes safe handling of foods throughout the food production chain. However, it is important to note that the food industry and retail sectors in Canada are ultimately responsible for the food they produce and sell, while individual consumers are responsible for the safe handling of the food they have in their possession. Moreover, general advice for the consumer on the safe handling of foods is widely available. The CFIA will continue its surveillance activities and inform stakeholders of its findings.

Who came first? US says Canada has comparable food safety

Not only the title of a great Pete Townsend solo record, or pissing matches of varying degrees, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) signed an arrangement with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the Department of Health Canada (Health Canada) recognizing each other’s food safety systems as comparable to each other. The arrangement was signed at a meeting of the FDA-CFIA Health Canada Joint Committee on Food Safety. This is the second time that the FDA has recognized a foreign food safety system as comparable, the first being New Zealand in 2012. A similar system recognition process is underway between FDA and Australia and the European Commission.

Fancy food ain’t safe food: Brits pushing for full restaurant grade disclosure, including Michelin starred

Australia take note: Even though Toronto, Los Angeles and New York City have all figured out mandatory disclosure of restaurant inspection grades on the door – you know, when people might actually make a decision – the Brits and Aussies opted for a voluntary system, so if a restaurant gets a 2-out-of-5 it’s just not posted.

wtf_mate_ornament_roundWales already has a mandatory system and Northern Ireland will have one in October.

But not England or Scotland.

The Telegraph reports that the UK government came under pressure last night from council leaders who called for a change in the law to force high-class establishments – even Michelin starred ones — to publicise their hygiene rankings in a bid to reduce the risk of diners eating unsafe food and becoming ill.

The change would affect all restaurants but those with Michelin stars are set to be hit particularly hard, as research by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) shows their rankings are generally lower than many familiar chain restaurants.

I repeat, Michelin-starred restaurants generally rank lower than chain restaurants.

Fancy food ain’t safe food.

In December, FSA found 83pc of high street chains were given the best rating of five out of five, compared to just 55pc of Michelin star restaurants.

Michelin stars, a mark of exceptional quality food, are awarded to businesses by mystery shoppers and are judged independently of the official hygiene ratings.

Safety and quality are altogether different measures.

(Safety and quality are different measures, see below.} 

The FSA said all businesses should be able to reach this top rating of five.

But Bruce Poole, owner of Chez Bruce, a Michelin star restaurant in Wandsworth with a hygiene rating of lower than five, defended top restaurants which did not score top marks.

fancy.food.shitHe said: “It is very difficult for restaurants like ours as unlike high street chains which have restricted menus, we have fresh food coming through the day – sometimes up to 70 different items. We have to be able to show that all these pieces of produce have been handled correctly. For example we were downgraded from five stars because we couldn’t prove that we had frozen some fish at the correct temperature.” 

Simon Blackburn, Blackpool councilor and chairman of the Local Government Association safer and stronger communities board, said: “It’s not always easy for people to judge hygiene standards simply by walking through the front door of a premise and know whether they are about to be served a ‘dodgy’ meal that could pose a serious risk to their health.”

An FSA spokesperson said: “We very much favour making this system compulsory in England too, as we believe this will be better for consumers. It will also be better for businesses that achieve good standards as they will get more recognition and it will increase the spotlight on those not meeting the grade.”

“Anyone in England who sees a business without a hygiene rating sticker currently has to decide if they want to eat or buy food there without knowing what’s going on in the kitchen” said councillor Simon Blackburn, the chair of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board.

“It’s not always easy for people to judge hygiene standards simply by walking through the front door of a premise and know whether they are about to be served a ‘dodgy’ burger or kebab that could pose a serious risk to their health.

“Councils always take action to tackle poor or dangerous hygiene and improve conditions and see first-hand what shockingly can go on behind closed doors at rogue food premises.

smiley.faces.denmark.rest.inspection“Businesses have recently been prosecuted for being riddled with mice or cockroach infestations, rodent droppings on food and caught with a chef smoking when preparing food.”

Mandatory display of food hygiene ratings is supported by the consumer organization Which?, the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health and many environmental health officers.

Last year Gordon Ramsay’s Maze restaurant in Mayfair, London, scored just two out of five after inspectors found cockroaches on the premises. Immediate steps were taken and Maze now scores top marks.

The LGA released details of recent food safety breaches, including in Croydon where more than 100 food outlets failed to meet expected hygiene standards last year, including 22 on a single street.

Over to you, Australia.

Diamond Pet Food, Costco pay settlement in Canadian Salmonella cases in pets

Diamond Pet Food and Costco have begun paying settlements to Canadian pet owners who say their pets required screening and/or treatment, or the pets died, after they were exposed to Salmonella in 2011 and 2012.

diamond.pet.foodA class action lawsuit was filed against Diamond Pet Foods and its distributor, Costco, after pet illnesses and some deaths occurred. While admitting no liability, the companies agreed to settle the lawsuit to avoid lengthy litigation. The settlement was announced in March 2016.

Attorney Jeff Ornstein, who heads the class action firm, Consumer Law Group, said Costco is notifying 115,000 customers who purchased the pet food by an automated phone call, announcing that the settlement is available.

To be eligible, consumers must have purchased Diamond Pet Food, recalled on April 6, 26 or 30, 2012,  or on May 4-5, 2012, and did not return the recalled produced or exchange, and did not already sign a release with Diamond or Costco.

The amount of payment depends on the damages sustained and varies from the cost of replacing the pet food to larger amounts to cover the costs of veterinary care, or costs related to the death of the animal.

The class action filing says one consumer’s dog became extremely ill after eating Kirkland Signature Super Premium Adult Dog Lamb, Rice & Vegetable Formula – a Diamond Pet Food Brand made for Costco – and required treatment and lab tests by a veterinarian.

The companies told the consumer about the Salmonella contamination but would not compensate the consumer for the veterinary bills because the consumer did not have an empty bag or proof of purchase for the dog food.

Collaboration two-step: 12 sick with hep A from frozen cherries grown who knows where

The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with federal and provincial public health partners to investigate an outbreak of Hepatitis A infections in three provinces linked to the frozen fruit product: Nature’s Touch Organic Berry Cherry Blend.

clear.present.dangerThe Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has issued a food recall warning advising Canadians of the recall of the frozen fruit product that has been distributed in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Public Health Agency of Canada advises Canadians not to consume the frozen fruit product Nature’s Touch Organic Berry Cherry Blend sold exclusively at Costco warehouse locations in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.  If you suspect you have been exposed to the recalled product, or have symptoms consistent for Hepatitis A, see your health care provider immediately. Vaccination can prevent the onset of symptoms if given within two weeks of exposure.

Currently, there are 12 cases of Hepatitis A in three provinces related to this outbreak: Ontario (9), Quebec (2), and Newfoundland and Labrador (1). Individuals became sick in February and March of this year. Some of the individuals who became ill have reported eating the recalled product. The majority of cases (58%) are male, with an average age of 37 years. Three cases have been hospitalized.

Costco, where you getting those cherries from?