Most Canadian heist ever: Guy in goalie gear robs Manitoba beer store

I was in Brisbane.

William-Bashin-Bill-Barilko-March-25-1927-c-August-26-1951-celebrities-who-died-young-31630951-650-385Really.

RCMP in Manitoba are on the hunt for two people who pulled off a beer store heist in the community of Russell.

One of the suspects had a hockey stick and was apparently dressed as a goalie.

In surveillance footage from Aug. 15 posted on YouTube, the men are seen smashing a door and walking into the store to steal a bunch of beer.

Police said the one suspect may have been “a defenceman or forward in disguise as he was wearing jersey #17 — a non-traditional number for goalies.”

“Anyone with information about this theft or has played against a goalie matching this description is asked to call Russell RCMP,” the RCMP added.

In others matters Canadiana the full concert of the Aug. 20, 2016 Tragically Hip show that was broadcast around the country – and world – is now up on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7H2ew1MwyQM.

I laughed, I cried, I rocked.

 

Going public: London, Ontario (that’s in Canada) version after Salmonella spike

Rather than waiting until all the facts were in and all the linkages solid, the Middlesex-London Health Unit on Friday decided to do something which has now become radical: it shared what they knew about a spike in Salmonella illnesses, said what they were doing to find out more, and implied that when they  find out more, you’ll hear it from health-types first.

risks.aheadGood job.

Jennifer O’Brien of the London Free-Press reports that 14 reported cases of Salmonella in a week — compared to a monthly August average of nine — has mystified health inspectors who couldn’t find a “common thread” among those affected.

Stephen Turner, director of environmental health and infectious diseases said, “We look for relationships — common restaurants, grocery stores, a common workplace . . . whether they’ve purchased a common product. We haven’t found that. That is why it’s raised our eyebrows so we are investigating diligently.”

The next step for the health unit is to contact each infected person and find out information that might explain how they became infected, he said.

The 14 people who were infected between Aug. 18 and Friday included males and females who range in age and live in various neighbourhoods across London.

They all reported typical symptoms associated with salmonella — diarrhea, vomiting and fever, said Turner, adding the health unit would like anyone experiencing such symptoms to report them.

Washing is never enough but are they linked? Summer means Cyclospora in Canada, Mexico and Texas

Finally, some decent risk-based advice from a government agency.

Washing will not remove Cyclospora from fresh produce.

pesto.basil_.cyclosporaWashing removes very little of anything from fresh produce.

Canada’s Public Health Agency is investigating 51 cases of people infected with the single-celled parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis between mid-May and late-July. Forty-four of the 51 cases reported so far have been in Ontario.

The infection can cause watery diarrhea, fatigue, stomach pain

Though uncommon in food and drinking water in Canada and the U.S., the parasite often persists on fruit and vegetables even after they have been washed. Public Health Canada recommends that people cook vegetables and fruit imported from Peru, Cuba, India, Nepal, Mexico, Guatemala, Southeast Asia and Dominican Republic.

Last week, health officials in Texas also reported a major outbreak of the disease, and are continuing an investigation into fresh produce as a possible source. After a series of outbreaks linked to imported produce from Puebla Mexico in 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned imports from the region during summer months.

Previous outbreaks of Cyclospora have been linked to pre-packaged salad mix, basil, cilantro, raspberries, blackberries, and snap-peas.

At the same time, 148 British tourists have been confirmed with Cyclospora after visiting 24 luxury hotel complexes most of which are in the Riviera Maya resort near Cancun in Mexico.

Public Health England  are now warning UK tourists to be wary of travelling to Mexico and the Foreign Office have updated their website to include a warning from health authorities about travelling to the region.

Tragic: Settlement reached after Canadian boy left disabled by E. coli

Kevin Rollason of the Winnipeg Free Press reports a 14-year-old Winnipeg youth has been awarded more than $2.5 million after eating ground beef tainted with deadly E. coli bacteria and being left to live with multiple disabilities and unable to look after himself for the rest of his life.

ground-beef_350(2)Justice Lori Spivak, of Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench, approved the settlement in an order last month, which had been reached earlier between the boy’s family, the province’s Public Trustee, grocer Westfair Foods, and meat processor XL Foods.

“The events were quite tragic,” Chris Wullum, the family’s lawyer, said on Thursday.

“The hamburger meat he consumed left catastrophic injuries. The family is pleased that a fair settlement was reached that will allow them to look after him.”

The boy, who is a permanent ward of Metis Child and Family Services, was just two in 2004 when his mother fed him Hamburger Helper with ground beef she had bought at the Superstore on McPhillips Street.

The mother got sick, but her son became severely ill and had to be hospitalized. He needed a kidney transplant and he suffered a massive stroke in his middle cerebral artery, leaving him with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and permanent cognitive impairments. Doctors didn’t know if he was going to survive during the first couple of years.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency launched a recall of ground beef products in August 2004 after two people in Manitoba were poisoned with E. coli bacteria the month before. A Public Health Agency of Canada report later that year said 27 people became ill after consuming beef tainted with the same strain of E. coli.

Court documents said the agency tested frozen ground beef, still in the family’s freezer, and found it was contaminated with that strain of E. coli.

The boy became a permanent ward of Winnipeg Child and Family Services because the mother couldn’t look after him with all of his special needs, but he has since been transferred to Metis CFS and he has been living with his grandparents since 2009.

The settlement also saw XL Foods drop its counter lawsuit against the boy’s mother, in which it claimed she had been at fault for not cooking the ground beef properly.

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.