The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) reported Saturday Aug. 30/08 that at least 176 persons have become ill as a result of the E. coli O111 outbreak in northeastern Oklahoma. Cases include 128 adults and 48 children. Federal and state health officials say E. coli O111 is a rare type not normally associated with an outbreak this large.
OSDH disease investigators, along with staff from Tulsa Health Department and area local county health departments, have interviewed more than 450 persons in an effort to identify the source of the outbreak. Interviews continue this weekend.
While the source has not yet been identified, health officials continue to focus on the Country Cottage restaurant in Locust Grove, OK, after interviews with cases indicated most had eaten there during the time period Aug. 15 through Aug. 23.
The restaurant is closed while the investigation continues. Not all persons who ate at the restaurant have become ill. No other restaurant or food service outlet in the area has been linked to the outbreak.
OSDH laboratory analysis of water samples taken from a private well on the restaurant property is continuing, however, health officials believe it is unlikely that any well water contamination is the source of the outbreak.
The listeria outbreak in Canada goes from bad to worse as authorities announced Sunday afternoon (Aug. 31/08) there are now 11 confirmed and 6 suspected deaths linked to consumption of Maple Leaf deli meats; further, 33 are confirmed ill and another 25 are suspected of being ill with the outbreak strain. However, no comprehensive timeline for the onset of illnesses has been provided.
The developments over the past week are difficult to keep straight. As journalists probe how this happened – how the risk of Listeria monocytogenes was managed – a number of revelations have emerged:
• U.S. Department of Agriculture audits found that 19 of 20 Canadian plants were not complying with sanitation standards, while Canadian inspectors were not always aware of their duties, "and were not well trained in the performance of their inspection tasks;" Canadian regulators urged the Americans to soften their language;
• Rick Holley of the University of Manitoba said Canada lacks the surveillance systems that could lead to better detection of foodborne illnesses, in stark contrast to the United States, which takes a much more active approach to addressing food safety through the FoodNet system.
Amy and I don’t really disagree about much. But we can each get moody and self-absorbed and go after each other. Especially at the end of 20-hour drives. That’s about how long it takes to go from Manhattan (Kansas) to Guelph (Ontario) and at the end of one epic journey back from Guelph two years ago, tired and driving through Kansas City with a trailer full of my crap that I just had to have in Kansas, Amy decided to entertain herself by asking me, who are you to publish an opinion, or something like that.
I’ve always thought that academic-types had a responsibility to share their knowledge in a compelling manner with the public, rather than just complain about people’s opinions of things scientific and otherwise. But really, who the hell am I? Why should anyone listen? Or care?
I questioned myself for a couple of months and didn’t do much public stuf. Then I got over it. But I still question myself and try to do my homework.
I’m not so sure about Dr. Dave in the video below.
This is from some mommy television show in Canada that Ben sent me. It’s called, The Mom Show. In the clip below, Dr. Dave, appears to have no clue about botulism in babies less than a year old.
Clostridium botulinum can cause sickness in very young children, and infants under the age of 1 years old are most at risk. Honey may contain Clostridium botulinum spores that can grow in the digestive tract of children less than one-year-old because their digestive system is less acidic. The bacteria produces toxin in the body and can cause severe illness. Even pasteurized honey can contain botulism spores and should be not be given to children under the age of 12 months.
Posted: August 31st, 2008 - 12:32am
by Doug Powell
On Thursday I spent a couple of hours with some visiting food safety types from Thailand, sharing our experiences with on-farm food safety and fresh produce.
Near the end of the talk, I put up a sample of a daily FSnet mailing for additional information. For policy analyst Thepchoo Sripoti, left, with Thailand’s National Food Institute, light bulbs went off. He said,
“I am a big fan of your FSNET for almost 7 years. It gives me new information on food safety around the world. Wish you have a great success all the way.”
In possibly the worst – or most incongruent – press release ever written, the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education, the group with the excessively explanatory name, says they have "issued some simple guidelines to reduce the risk of microbial foodborne illnesses. This is of special interest to Canadians in light of recent coverage of listeriosis.”
So for all the money this group gets from government and industry, they can’t be bothered to say, hey, if you’re pregnant or immunocomprimised, you shouldn’t eat this stuff.
Instead, just more messages funded by taxpayers telling them to feel good about the food they buy.
This is the same group that wanted to use a Mrs. Doubtfire-inspired food safety spokesthingy to reach out to university students, until the trans-generders in Canada got word and forced the campaign to disappear.
Posted: August 29th, 2008 - 5:03pm
by Michelle Mazur
I’ve just started my first year of veterinary school, and after only two days into the program, I’ve been contacted by at least five pet food companies touting their premium pet food that is healthy for pets and tasty as well. I suppose that pets enjoy the variety of flavors, but a new study from Australia suggests it’s doing more harm than good. Deakin University scientist Dr Giovanni Turchini has discovered an estimated 2.48 million tonnes of forage fish - a limited biological resource - is consumed by the global cat food industry each year.
This puts cats ahead of people as far as consumption rates go; pet cats are eating an estimated 13.7 kilograms of fish a year, which far exceeds the Australian average (human) per capita fish and seafood consumption of around 11 kilograms.
Just as obesity has become a major epidemic among Americans, it is also an epidemic among pets. These tasty canned foods with enticing flavors such as “shredded yellowfin tuna fare” only encourage pets to grow wider around the belly all while pet food companies continue to cook up new ideas for making cats want their food.
What happened to cats eating regular dry food? Though, even the dry food goes overboard for Fancy Feast, which touts three different flavors for the finicky cat. With the slogan of “A bowl full of ‘I love you,’” Fancy Feast has definitely gone overboard in pampering cats. If you love your pet, then why are you feeding it a high-fat meal?
I did a phone-in interview with Sun TV (Toronto) yesterday which focused on what we can learn from the outbreak and what consumers could do to protect themselves. Irradiation seems to be coming up a lot in coverage and interviews that we are doing, likely fueled by the FDA's announcement to allow the irradiation of certain ready-to-eat leafy greens and Health Canada's Jeff Farber saying that the government is considering approving the irradiation of meats early next year. Irradiation has been approved for certain specific single-ingredient meats (like ground beef) in the U.S. since 1997, with the USDA approving it's commercial use in 1999 though it's use in deli meats is not currently approved. Last night I said that irradiation is a tool that can be used to reduce risk and impact public health, but by no means is a magic bullet in pathogen control.
The best part of the interview wasn't the content (YouTube vid below) but was my huge head appearing over Janette Luu's shoulder as if I was going to eat her (right, exactly as shown). Janette, probably sensing some impending doom appears to be leaning away from my picture as well.
Below is the original pic where the headshot came from. I think it is less creepy.
Up to 15 people – including children – were this afternoon being treated for E.coli after an outbreak of the bug near Aberdeen. Seven cases have already been confirmed with a further eight people showing symptoms.
Public health chiefs believe the source is a shared private water supply to eight homes in South Auchinclech, near Westhill.
Aberdeen-based Prof Hugh Pennington, said the source of the contamination was likely to be cattle manure, adding,
“There is quite a strong possibility it got washed into the water supply by heavy rain. The water purification system probably got overwhelmed. … Once somebody’s been affected, we’ve just got to keep our finger crossed.”
U.S. college football kicks off Saturday. Time to put on your favorite school’s colors and brush up on that fight song. Thousands of students and alumni will be heading out to the stadium, tailgating, and firing up those grills. Hamburgers, chicken, ribs, or beans, there will be plenty of food on hand.
Use a food thermometer to make sure you aren’t serving your friends and family undercooked meats. Make sure to cook ground beef to 160°F(1), while chicken needs to reach 165°F(2). That way when your team takes the field, you aren’t puking or stuck on the toilet. And using a thermometer will make you a better cook. People are impressed by this. Good food safety will allow you to fully enjoy the tailgating atmosphere, so you can cheer your school onto victory.
1: Ryan, Suzanne M., Mark Seyfert, Melvin C. Hunt, Richard A. Mancini. Influence of Cooking Rate, Endpoint Temperature, Post-cook Hold Time, and Myoglobin Redox State on Internal Color Development of Cooked Ground Beef Patties. Journal of Food Science. Volume 71 Issue 3 Page C216-C221, April 2006 http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2621.2006.tb15620.x?prevSearch=authorsfield%3A%28M.C.+Hunt%29
2: Focus On: Chicken. Food Safety and Inspection Service. United States Department of Agriculture. April 4, 2006. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/chicken_food_safety_focus/index.asp
Posted: August 28th, 2008 - 12:20pm
by Ben Chapman
This week's food safety infosheet focuses on a norovirus outbreak linked to a North Carolina BBQ restaurant in Lexington, NC. Health authorities have been reported as saying that they believe a food handler, who was not displaying symptoms of a norovirus infection, brought the virus into the kitchen after caring for a family member who was ill.
Message is: If you are looking after someone who has diarrhea or has been vomiting, it's really important to not introduce the pathogen into a food preparation or handling setting. Wash your hands and make sure there aren't any virus aerosols on your clothes (that happens when you vomit with noro; maybe change them before you head into the kitchen).
Maple Leaf president Michael McCain told the media today that,
“I once again wish to express my deepest personal sympathies to those Canadians who have been affected by this tragedy. While this is the most unfortunate of events possible, I absolutely do not believe that this is a failure of the Canadian food safety system or the regulators.
“Certainly knowing that there is a desire to assign blame, I want to reiterate that the buck stops right here.
“As I've said before, Maple Leaf Foods is 23,000 people who live in a culture of food safety. We have an unwavering commitment to keep our food safe, and we have excellent systems and processes in place. But this week it's our best efforts that failed, not the regulators or the Canadian food safety system.”
Good for McCain. He runs a company with world-class aspirations, so he’s not weaseling away from the spotlight.
And he unshackled the company of any political or bureaucratic commentary – which has been fairly hopeless all along.
But if McCain is going to step up, he’s also going to get some questions,
McCain says, “a comprehensive study done at the University of Regina gave Canada one of five superior ratings out of 17 top-tier OECD countries in a world review of food safety. This highlights that Listeria is a particularly challenging bacteria for the entire food industry to manage, including the United States and Europe, simply because it is pervasive."
That study was fairly challenged and has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Don’t cite shit.
And you didn’t address any of the tough issues.
Will you release the results of the 3,000 listeria swabs your company takes every year to provide some data, some meaning, to your claims that public health is your top priority? Will you back some kind of point-of-sale initiative – warning labels or otherwise – to explicitly warn pregnant women and immunocomprimized Canadians that, as you say, listeria is so widespread in the environment, that vulnerable people should not eat your products.
Michael McCain, you’ve taken some great first steps and gone way beyond what government has done. The sooner you lose them the better; they’re deadweight and not very good hockey players. They don’t lose their jobs, and they don’t lose sleep about falling stock prices.
Me, Ben, Amy and the rest of our team are here to help you actually implement that culture of food safety you and your folks are so fond of citing. We’ve noticed you liked the pictures of recalled products idea. We’re not just armchair quarterbacks, and we’re just an e-mail away.
The first time I met Amy, at a Canadian studies club meeting at Kansas State, I told Amy the French professor that French food was overrated and that sleeping with her cocker spaniel was a microbiological hazard.
She asked me out anyway.
Today we walked up to school and Sadie, the dog that saved our relationship, had a dump. And then there was this worm-like turd hanging out of her ass.
I thought and hoped and prayed it would go away.
It didn’t. So I grabbed a stick and tried to knock the poop off her ass.
So Amy gave me a tissue and I pulled the hanging turd out of her ass and there was another six inches of stick that came out.
Gross. Like when my daughter Courtlynn hurled as the plane landed in Atlanta – those airplane barf bags are fairly solid and I got it in time.
I really just needed a break from writing about the shit that is listeria in Canada.
My friend Marty will think this is hilarious, but I’m a bit of a fancier of words.
Except I have a habit of using an apt sounding word that means something totally different from what I was trying to convey. Marty has been making fun of that quirk for 25 years, going back to our university newspaper days. Fortunately, the computer dictionary has helped.
So has Amy. She’s really sharpened my word usage and helped me become a better writer. One of Amy’s greatest pleasures is identifying when people mix up it’s and its.
So when a wire story came out this morning with the lede,
“As Canada grapples with a deadly outbreak of listeriosis, a leading food safety expert says the federal government has not done enough to educate pregnant women and seniors about the potential dangers of eating deli meats.???”
I went a bit nuts.
I would never say that anyone needs to be educated. It’s arrogant. Sure, I’m perceived as arrogant about lots of things, but on this I’m clear: provide information, preferably in a compelling manner, and individuals will decide whether they want to be educated or not. I’m writing a paper about this. I’ve brought students to tears for using the educate people line.
???"Maybe we need warning labels (on the food), because the message isn't getting out there," said Powell, an associate professor of food safety at Kansas State University.???"
The Health Canada response was typically bureaucratic. "There are a number of food safety tips and fact sheets and a lot of consumer education on this," said Paul Duchesne of Health Canada.
Show me the data. Show anyone the evaluation you’ve done with your big budgets to ensure Canadians at risk are aware. Demonstrate the effectiveness of your fact sheets and consumer education which are best used as a sleep aid.
Abstract The potential for stigmatization of food is enormous. Well-publicized outbreaks of foodborne illness through traditional and new media demonstrate the rapid and dependent interactions between science, policy and public perception. Current risk management research indicates that it is essential for risk managers from farm-to-fork to demonstrate they are reducing, mitigating or minimizing a particular foodborne risk. Those responsible must be able to effectively communicate their risk reduction efforts in multiple media and to provide evidence that these efforts are actually reducing levels of risk.
Guess the folks at CFIA didn't get that paper. A well-meaning staffer at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency sent me an e-mail the other day, stating,
“The Media Monitoring Team here at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has been asked by our Director to start monitoring reputable food safety related blogs.
“I was wondering if you would happen to have a prepared list of any of these sites, and, if so, if you would be willing to share these with us?”
Sure. Always ready to help the government when asked. I told him barfblog.com and marlerblog.com. The other posers just run headlines.
But maybe I’m just a crazy Kansas-type. Jennie Garth, who is reprising her role as Kelly Taylor on a new 90210, enlightened the world as to why the new "90210" is likely to resonate with young viewers.
"It's going to reflect teenagers as they are. It's not going to sugarcoat it. You know teenagers are teenagers no matter if they live in Beverly Hills or if they live in crazy Kansas somewhere. All the kids are the same. They're going through the same elemental issues and problems."
Posted: August 27th, 2008 - 10:53am
by Ben Chapman
They've got pictures now.
After posting on Sunday night about the confusion around Maple Leaf's multiple brands and differing packaging, and seeing consumer reaction to the same, I'm happy to see that Maple Leaf has stepped up with some better comminication. In the below clip from CBC Toronto, one concerned Canadian shopper shows her frustration by saying "it's kind of hard to tell... a lot of things you don't know if they come from the Maple Leaf thing".
My favourite Maple Leaf thing has always been Doug Gilmour, circa 1993.
Maple Leaf foods has posted a viewer-friendly graphic (at the bottom of the notice) of how to determine if a product is part of the recall. I especially like the inclusion of variances of the establishment code.
Posted: August 27th, 2008 - 12:18am
by Doug Powell
Michael McCain, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods, when it comes to the communication and building trust aspects of what must be your listeria nightmare, stay away from government.
Shortly after the first death was announced last Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008, various politicians and bureaucrats said the surveillance system was working. Robert Clarke, the assistant deputy minister of the Public Health Agency of Canada, said Friday that the government's actions in this case were quite rapid and an illustration of success.
“Did the surveillance system work? No independent voice has said so yet, and it is hard to see why Mr. Clement's or Mr. Clarke's word should be taken at face value. The two-year-old Public Health Agency, which reports to Mr. Clement, has yet to distinguish itself for independence. And everyone - government health officials and the company involved, Maple Leaf Foods Inc. - considered it enough that the first warning of possible contamination went out to distributors, not the public. For four days, the loop was closed. Whether that was the right or the wrong approach, it does not do much for the public's confidence in Canada's food-safety system.”
Columnist Tom Brodbeck of the Winnipeg Sun wrote that,
“Federal Health Minister Tony Clement says the recent tainted meat outbreak that killed six people and caused at least 14 more serious illnesses is a shining example of how well Canada's food inspection system works.
“If this is what Clement calls a success story, I'd hate to see what he considers a system failure. … I don't think six deaths and 14 serious illnesses is anything to be proud of.”
These comments about success are even more bizarre and appalling now that the confirmed and probable death toll has been raised to 15.
So this afternoon, Dr. David Butler-Jones, MD, Chief Public Health Officer (that’s a lot of capitals), who had previously lauded the success of the surveillance system, wrote in a press release that, “As Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, I want to update Canadians on the state of the ongoing listeriosis outbreak.”
He really seems to enjoy that title; and he then proceeded to provide less than no information.
“We are all understandably concerned whenever we hear that something as precious as the food we eat may pose a danger. Years of effort to ensure safe and secure food supplies have allowed us to be confident in what we eat. …
“While not everything is preventable, fortunately there are some simple steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of illness for ourselves and our families. There are the usual things we should always be doing, like washing hands, storing and cooking food properly, washing fruits and vegetables well, and avoiding unpasteurized milk and milk products. …
“Canadians should be confident that the Government of Canada, through the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, is working closely with all provinces, territories, and with Maple Leaf Foods to respond to this outbreak and protect the public's health.
“We can never be completely immune to the risk of contaminations and outbreaks, even with the best food safety system in the world. That is why we operate surveillance and other systems to identify potential outbreaks and do the detective work that helps us to find the cause and stop further problems. And what we learn from each experience helps us to improve the system further.”
As Napoleon Dynamite sorta said, “That’s like, the worst thing I’ve ever seen.”
Why should Canadians have any confidence when the public servants at all these agencies with their six-figure salaries can’t provide basic information like who got sick when? How arrogant is it to tell someone they should be confident in an alphabet soup of agencies, in the absence of any data or statements that inspire confidence?
“Some 12 years ago, my husband got sick. I had never seen a person so sick outside of a hospital. His fevers were so severe that when they broke, the bed sheets were sopping wet. He couldn't keep anything in his stomach. We battled to keep him hydrated.
“He wasn't alone in his misery. He was among a small group of people who contracted salmonella when a restaurant cook failed to properly clean a cutting board where raw chicken had been cut. …
“So it surprises me when there's such outcry when the Food and Drug Administration approves a practice to help make our food safer. This past week, the FDA decided to allow spinach and lettuce sellers to treat their products with radiation to safeguard against E. coli and other bugs that can make us sick.
“As soon as FDA officials made the announcement, critics were all over the airwaves claiming radiation makes food less nutritious and potentially toxic. Toxic? Give salmonella a whirl if you want to talk toxic. …
“Food irradiation isn't a magic bullet. But it's one more barrier to micro-organisms that can sicken and kill. I should think that most people would want that extra tool to help keep their families safe, particularly when we know that a fairly high percentage of food-borne illnesses result from poor food-handling practices in the home.
“For me, it's one more safeguard, one I'm more than willing to welcome into my home.”
He died just nine weeks later, on Sunday, of what is suspected to be E. coli poisoning. He was 26.
His sister, Laura Claypool, said Ingle ate a meal Sunday Aug. 17 at the Country Cottage in Locust Grove, a popular family-owned buffet-style restaurant.
Ingle fell ill Wednesday night with severe stomach pain and diarrhea and went to Integris Mayes County Medical Center. On Thursday, he began to pass blood.
An ambulance took him to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa on Friday. He underwent a colonoscopy, and doctors concluded that he had acute colitis, Claypool said.
Ingle felt better Friday evening and urged his parents to return home. But his condition grew worse, and his mother-in-law called Ingle's parents Saturday morning to return to St. Francis.
"By the time Mom and Dad got there, they had called a code blue," Claypool said. Ingle was placed on kidney dialysis, but he died Sunday, she said.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health said it is investigating an outbreak of severe diarrheal illness among residents of several northeastern Oklahoma communities. At least 17 cases have been hospitalized and 40 or more potential cases are under investigation. One person has died.
Warning labels are a lousy risk management strategy, but the outbreak of listeria in Canada which has killed at least 12 and sickened dozens has had lots of lousy aspects. So why not? A story that is running across Canada this morning says, With pregnant women and the elderly especially at risk from Listeria, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency needs to step up efforts to alert people to the hazard — perhaps going so far as to put warning labels on deli products — said University of Guelph adjunct professor Doug Powell.
What? Guess that was some stretch at Canadian content. I’m an associate professor of food safety at Kansas State University. If I’m adjunct at Guelph, I want access to all the money that was provided to deliver news and is instead being used as some sort of room renovation fund by a department chair I never met.
Michael McCain delivered a powerful and compelling apology over the weekend as authorities confirmed Maple Leaf deli meats were the likely source of food-borne illness that has killed at least six and sickened dozens.
Outbreaks of food and water-borne illness are far too common. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30 per cent of people in so-called developed countries will suffer each and every year. That's a lot of sick people.
But the current listeria outbreak turns statistics into stories, and challenges a company like Maple Leaf, with world-class aspirations, to do better.
The first case of listeriosis apparently surfaced in late June. Why it took the various health authorities so long to make a link remains to be uncovered.
For now, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Health Canada and others are providing little in the way of details regarding who knew what when.
The authorities are, however, proving unjustifiably adept at praising themselves for the speed with which they responded to the outbreak.
Two months after the first case is not an early-warning system. The political barbs that have been tossed around – which provide no insight on managing listeria – are simply embarrassing given the loss of life and illness.
McCain and Maple Leaf are better than this, and can be better:
• Issue pictures of the recalled products:
Telling people to look for products that contain the stamp "Establishment (EST) 97B" puts too much of a burden on people who just wanted to go shopping, not do homework. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration realized this, and last year started including pictures on their recall notices for products deemed to be high health risks.
Pictures aren't superficial, they are good communication. It's difficult for even PhD-types to wade through nine pages of recalled products, and pictures can make the connection for those who don't always know what brands they buy.
• Warn pregnant women and others at risk from listeria in deli meats:
My wife is six months pregnant and she hasn't had deli meats or smoked salmon or other refrigerated, ready-to-eat foods for six months.
That's because, as Michael McCain says, the bacterium listeria is fairly much everywhere, difficult to control, and grows in the refrigerator. It also causes stillbirths in pregnant women, who are about 20 times more likely to contract the bug than other adults.
The banter in Canada about government or industry taking the lead on food inspection, whether food should be produced in large or small places, is misguided at best and more likely, political opportunism.
Long before the current outbreak, the advice from the Canadian government about listeria was mushy:
"Although the risk of listeriosis associated with foods from deli counters, such as sliced packaged meat and poultry products, is relatively low, pregnant women and immunosuppressed persons may choose to avoid these foods."
The advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is clear: Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, or deli meats, unless they are reheated.
It has been documented that many pregnant women are not aware of the risks associated with consuming refrigerated, ready-to-eat foods like cold cuts.
Don't expect the bureaucrats in the Canadian government to do anything. If Michael McCain and Maple Leaf are truly concerned with public health, they could at a minimum put warning labels on their products. Maybe near the "(EST) 97B."
• Make your listeria data public:
Maple Leaf Foods spokesperson Linda Smith told CTV Newsnet Friday, officials at the plant are "... constantly looking for it (listeria), constantly swabbing and looking for it."
Smith said the equipment at the plant is sanitized every day and officials take about 3,000 swabs per year. The plant also has a microbiologist on site.
"This plant has an excellent food safety record, excellent inspection record, excellent external auditors. We'll never know exactly how it got here."
But you do have 3,000 samples per year. If Maple Leaf really wants to restore public confidence, release the listeria data. How many positives does the Toronto plant see in a year? Were there positives leading up to the initial Aug. 17 recall? If there were no positives, why not? What is the protocol when a positive is discovered?
Consumers can handle more, not less information about the food they eat.
Maple Leaf Foods has the unfortunate opportunity to set new standards for consumer confidence.
Douglas Powell of Brantford is an associate professor of food safety at Kansas State University.
The coverage of this outbreak isn't really going away as more details came out yesterday.
Earlier in the day, Maple Leaf spokesperson Linda Smith was cited as saying that inspectors failed to detect listeria in this case, but they are constantly swabbing for the bacterium. "Did we find it? Absolutely not. We did not find that listeria," she said. "Did we let people down? Yes. But we were doing the right things."
On CBC's National tonight (clip below), Smith was quoted as saying "We would occasionally find a listeria positive swab, at which case we sanitize that complete area and swab again."
I was talking with my mom yesterday. Her and dad live in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, and she asked if I was busy with the listeria outbreak. I asked her if she was concerned at all, and she says she doesn’t buy deli meat – her, and more often, dad, will cook a roast or a ham and eat leftovers.
At that point, I realized I had become my parents. I do buy the occasional shaved turkey breast, and lots of smoked salmon, but it’s been nothing but roasts and birds fillets for the past six months of Amy’s pregnancy.
Others in Canada aren’t so sure what to do.
Ken Barnett of Ajax, Ontario, said that in the future, he and his wife are sticking to salads and salmon for lunch. I wonder if he knows smoked salmon is another one of those refrigerated, ready-to-eat foods that can harbor listeria.
“We’ve sort of made a decision not to buy any cold meats for the time being.”
Meanwhile, health types announced this afternoon that the number of dead in the Maple Leaf listeria outbreak has risen to six confirmed and six more suspected deaths, along with 26 confirmed illnesses and another 29 suspected ill.
“Canadian consumers should be assured that Canada's meat supply is recognized amongst the safest in the world.”
The release went on to describe all the money that has been invested in the meat system and that consumers needed to do their part. I’m sure none of this was reassuring to the dead and sick, especially since these are ready-to-eat products.
Medical types on Vancouver Island received a letter warning them to be on the lookout for patients with symptoms of listeria. Shouldn’t this have happened two months ago when the first cases were reported?
And an academic type, my buddy Rick Holley at the University of Manitoba, said he wasn't surprised to learn of the listeria outbreak since Canada's tracking of food-related illnesses is inadequate, and that,
"I am constantly troubled by the lack of surveillance information on foodborne and waterborne illnesses in Canada.”