Food fraud Rudolph edition: Alaska restaurant labels New Zealand venison as native reindeer

A popular restaurant has pleaded guilty to lying to its customers for two years.

In Fairbanks, Alaska, The Pump House Restaurant sold New Zealand venison under the guise of being Alaskan reindeer. 

rudolph-red-nosed-reindeer-7049705The restaurant’s parent company pleaded guilty to violating Alaska’s labelling and packaging laws in state court last week. 

The deception was noticed during an inspection in August last year. Food safety staff noticed a box that identified the meat was from New Zealand, not Alaska, said prosecutor Carole Holley with the Alaska Office of Special Prosecutions.

The business manager said the restaurant “deceptively served elk in lieu of reindeer ‘for about two years”.

Both the terms red deer and elk were used to describe the meat served under the name reindeer. Red deer and American elk are closely-related.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported that the business would pay $50,000 in criminal fines, and will donate all profits from the dish to the Fairbanks Community Food Bank, The Salvation Army and Stone Soup Cafe – equating to $10,532. 

Venison E. coli outbreak numbers reach 11 in Scotland

Another person has been diagnosed with E. coli in an outbreak linked with venison, Health Protection Scotland has said.

side-of-venison1-360x360All 11 of those now affected by the same strain of E. coli O157 had consumed venison which was purchased raw and cooked at home before falling ill.

Health watchdogs have linked the outbreak to Dundee firm Highland Game.

None of the 11 patients are in hospital.

A spokeswoman for Highland Game previously said a full inspection of the Dundee premises had been undertaken following the “very rare incident”, and said there was “no substantiated evidence to support the actual source of the outbreak.”

Corporate BS.

Tenth person struck down with E coli in Scotland

A tenth person has been diagnosed with E coli in an outbreak linked to venison produced by a Scottish game company.

side-of-venison1-360x360-300x300Nine people had been struck down with the same strain of the bug in Scotland – E coli O157 PT32 – after eating venison products including sausages, steaks and meatballs which were raw when purchased and cooked at home.

Inspectors linked the products to Dundee-based Highland Game, which sells venison in supermarkets and also supplies meat to Scottish Slimmers.

The products – Scottish Slimmers venison sausages, Scottish Slimmers venison meatballs, Highland Game grill steaks and venison steaks with pepper sauce – have use-by dates from 4 September 1 October.

‘No substantiated evidence of very rare’ outbreak: Dundee firm linked to venison E. coli outbreak

Blame the consumer, Bambi edition.

hqdefaultRaw venison products distributed by a company in Dundee have been linked to an outbreak of E. coli which affected nine people across Scotland.

An investigation by Health Protection Scotland found a link to certain products produced by Highland Game.

Nine people contracted the same strain of E. coli O157 after eating venison purchased raw and cooked at home.

Highland Game said there was “no substantiated evidence” of the source of the “very rare” outbreak.

Food Standards Scotland said the affected products, including Scottish Slimmers venison sausages, Scottish Slimmers venison meatballs, grillsteaks, and venison steaks with pepper sauce, had use-by dates from 4 September to 1 October.

A spokesman said the products “should not present a risk to health if they are handled and cooked properly”, but said consumers should contact the company or retailer if they had concerns.

He added: “Food Standards Scotland is working closely with Highland Game, who have confirmed that they have taken immediate precautionary action.”

A spokeswoman for Highland Game said a full inspection of the Dundee premises had been undertaken and “every assistance” given to FSS.

Scottish Slimmers venison sausagesShe said: “This is a very rare incident and venison has an excellent track record of safety and standards, and there is no substantiated evidence to support the actual source of the outbreak.

“Our stringent hygiene controls at Highland Game are second to none, however as with all meats there can be a risk of contamination somewhere in the food chain.”

Stephen Gibbs, chairman of the Scottish Venison Partnership, added: “We believe this is an isolated, rogue incident in an industry that has an exemplary record in terms of food safety. Consumers should have every confidence in continuing to eat venison – but we cannot stress enough that storage and cooking instructions should be carefully followed exactly, as with any other meat product, as well as good personal hygiene in relation to food preparation.”

Park Service culls deer in DC, helps fill bellies

Amy ate a lot of deer growing up in Minnesota, Montana and Missouri.

I never developed much of a taste for it.

Bambi1Here, they cull kangeroos.

According to the N.Y. Times, the government sharpshooters worked so efficiently in the dead of the night in Rock Creek Park that by the end of this year’s short killing season, they had shot 106 white-tailed deer.

Make that 3,300 pounds of local venison turned into meatloaf, burgers and more for the surprised directors of homeless shelters and other charities across the capital.

Despite local protesters who say the killings are cruel, the goal remains culling the deer population down to no more than 20 deer per square mile from 77 per square mile counted last fall. Armed with small-caliber rifles, professional sharpshooters from the Department of Agriculture first started killing deer in a one-night operation in March last year. The herd thinning quietly picked up again over five nights from January to March this year.

Now, to help the homeless and to make sure that the dead deer are not simply discarded — an action that would further outrage local residents — the National Park Service has the meat inspected and processed and then gives it to D.C. Central Kitchen. Using donated ingredients, the kitchen cooks and distributes 5,000 meals a day to community centers and shelters.

“It would be really sad if the National Park Service had to kill all these deer and throw the meat away,” said Paul Day, a spokesman for D.C. Central Kitchen.

Venison sushi salmonella case in Hawai`i

A bad case of salmonella poisoning suffered by a 65-year old Honolulu who ate raw venison sushi is the first documented case of its kind in Hawai`i and offers a reminder to physicians (and their patients) that there are many potential local sources of foodborne illness.

In the case, reported in the new edition of the Hawai`i Journal of Medicine and Public Health, the source of the illness is identified as venison, or deer meat, from the island of Lana`i.

A University of Hawai`i at M?noa press release quotes the article as saying, “In Hawai‘i, it has long been known that certain animals and animal products have a higher propensity to carry salmonella, particularly Hawaiian hogs and chickens. However, a search of the literature did not find data to implicate the local deer population as a source for foodborne illness.”

“The ethnic and cultural diversity of Hawai`i affords a cuisine with ample opportunities to eat raw or undercooked food, including sushi, ceviche, oysters, and clams,” wrote the researchers. “Game meat, including deer on Lana`i, is readily available to hunters. Clinicians in Hawai`i should remain alert and aware of the potential local sources of food borne illness. The deer population of Hawai‘i can potentially harbor foodborne pathogens. All persons should be reminded to thoroughly cook game meat and always adhere to safe food handling practices.”

Souse your steak to ward off cancer

After spending all day leaning against an abandoned shed in the woods with just a rifle and a flashlight, my husband got his doe.

That means lots of deer burger, a few roasts and several steaks are now stuffed in our freezer to feed us cheap for a while.

I’m new to the taste of venison and really hate the way it smells when it’s browning, but my husband makes a delicious teriyaki marinade that covers the gamey taste of those deer steaks perfectly.

He leaves mine on the grill until it’s well-done. That’s how I like it. I think more rare meat has a stringy/gummy texture that is most undesirable.

I know my preference is among the minority, though.

My food microbiology professor boasted of eating his steaks near raw: As long as the steaks haven’t been pierced before cooking (which would allow any bacteria on the outside to get inside the meat), the cook only needs to sear the surface to be rid of most things that could make him sick.

Some people shy away from well-done steaks because meats cooked to high temperatures form heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAs). These HAs are thought to contribute to some types of cancer.

There is hope for the devout well-done crowd, though. Food chemists in Portugal have found that the formation of HAs is significantly reduced when beef steaks are marinated in red wine or beer for six hours before being pan-fried.

I wonder how it does with venison?
 

Girl almost dies from E. coli after helping dad slaughter deer

Demonstrating once again that dangerous E. coli like O157:H7 exist in all ruminants, 7-year-old April Lambert of Beckley, West Virginia underwent a horrific yet typical encounter with E. coli as her kidneys shut down and doctors scrambled to save her life.

The Charleston Daily Mail reports that April’s father, Red, had shot a deer the Friday after Thanksgiving and she helped him skin it and prepare bigger cuts to send off to a local butcher, but Red cut the tenderloin himself.

April placed the pieces of meat into freezer bags, handling the meat with her hands.

The family and the doctors concluded that April likely hadn’t washed her hands afterward as well as she could have. In fact, April recalls she may have rinsed them and not used soap.

Dr. Amana Nasir, a West Virginia University pediatric gastroenterologist who was on the team that treated April in Charleston said she and fellow doctors have treated four similar cases traced to handling of deer meat, adding,

"Deer harbor infection – it’s estimated that 17 percent of the whitetail population harbors E.coli.”

The natural reservoirs for E. coli O157:H7
and other verotoxigenic E. coli is the intestines of all ruminants, including cattle — grass or grain-fed — sheep, goats, deer and elk.
 

Summer sausage is tasty, maggots and all

I grew up in a deer hunting family, and although my own deer hunting career started and ended when I was 13, I was so used to eating venison that beef tasted weird. I still remember one deer my family butchered at home, and my brother chased me around the house with an eyeball. We packaged and marked the cuts, but they stayed in our family freezer. Perhaps we had some guests over for dinner or gave some to a friend at church, but if anyone got sick, it was us.

In Omaha, apparently, things are run differently. Deer processor and poacher extraordinaire Jack McClanahan was finally put out of the summer sausage business.

According to the Omaha World-Herald McClanahan processed and sold tons of tainted summer sausage, much of it from poached deer. McClanahan told federal undercover agents that he sometimes shot deer at night with a rifle from the bathroom window of his home in Omaha’s Ponca Hills and then would retrieve the carcasses in the morning. He baited the deer with corn, used a spotlight to blind them, and then shot.

McClanahan is a retired butcher who sold summer sausage in 5-pound casings at $3.50 a pound. He also made salami, jerky and snack sticks, and authorities estimated annual production at about 10,000 pounds.

Mark Webb, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent, said mouse droppings, maggots, deer carcasses, dried blood, deer hair and other contaminants littered the commercial-grade meat processing equipment that filled McClanahan’s three-car garage. There was no running water for cleaning. When wildlife agents seized the equipment and cleaned it with hot water and soap at a carwash, they discovered two lead bullets the size of a man’s thumb lodged in the grinder. The blade had been shaving lead into the meat.

The butcher-poacher was fined $10,000 and sentenced to three years of probation Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

My family and most deer hunters I have known have a strong conservationist ethic. I was raised to respect wildlife and have a deep appreciation for nature. McClanahan, and other poachers, are appalling, but making humans sick and putting their lives at risk with filthy processing conditions is even more disgusting.