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Many of us see Vancouver as a "foodie" city. There exists here a food culture featuring great variety and even adventure in dining out. Well according to a recent article in the Vancouver Sun (By Joanne Lee-Young Oct. 2 2015) one of the few remaining BBQ meat shops in Chinatown will be closing its' doors after 20 years in business. This closure is a victim of the ongoing development in the city. But did you know that in the mid-seventies these shops and city hall got into a years long battle over the freshly made BBQ meat traditionally hanging in the shops. The fight was over the temperature of the meat which was not held above  60 C or below 4 C and therefore deemed unsafe by health inspectors and five shops were temporarily shut down. Take a Food Safe Level 1 course with A1 Food Safe and find out what all the fuss was about
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Eating contaminated Shellfish can be life threatening: Always check for Bivalve Shellfish Biotoxin Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning/Red tide, Domoic Acid Poisoning (or Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning), Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning, Vibrio Parahaemolyticus  Gastrointestinal Illness and Sanitary Closures if you plan on harvesting and consuming any shellfish. Go to the latest Biotoxin Contamination update Paralytic shellfish poison (PSP, also known as red tide), Amnesic shellfish poison (ASP) and Diarrhetic shellfish poison (DSP) and sanitary contamination  affect only bivalve molluscs, i.e., shellfish with two shells. Other shellfish, such as shrimp, prawns, etc., and finfish are not affected. Shellfish and the waters they inhabit are good indicators of the bacteriological health of the marine environment. Fecal coliform bacteria in the water indicate the presence of human or animal wastes and the possible presence of disease-causing organisms. Shellfish growing waters are considered polluted when the fecal coliform densities exceed a median of 14/100 mL (based on 15 data points). By comparison the standard for drinking water is 0 FC/100 mL while swimming water standard is 200 FC/100mL. The stringent standard for shellfish growing water is necessary due to the filter feeding mechanism of bivalve shellfish which can concentrate bacteria. Attention: Cooking does not destroy the paralytic shellfish toxin. PSP is caused by a group of related toxins. The best known of these is saxitoxin (SXT). In all, there are a total of 18 to 24 known toxins comprised of the parent compound, STX and its derivatives. The relative abundance of each poison varies with the species and strain of dinoflagellate. Saxitoxin is the dominant toxin in some British Columbia species. Shellfish and crabs are also tested for domoic acid, which is also a marine toxin produced by naturally occurring plankton. Ingestion of sufficient quantities of domoic acid results in amnesic shellfish poisoning or ASP. Eating shellfish with high levels of certain toxins can lead to serious or potentially fatal illnesses such as: Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) (commonly known as Red Tide), Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) and Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP). Cooking bivalve shellfish does not destroy the toxins that cause illnesses such as PSP, Domoic Acid Poisoning, DSP. Cooked shellfish can still be toxic. Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp), a naturally occurring bacterium found in shellfish, is present in higher concentrations during the summer months when water temperatures rise. As outdoor temperatures increase, so does the risk of illness associated with eating raw or undercooked bivalve shellfish (e.g. oysters, clams, mussels, scallops, and cockles). To reduce the risk of illness, only harvest shellfish at the water’s edge when the tide is going out, refrigerate immediately, and cook thoroughly before consuming. Vibrio parahaemolyticus can be present in bivalve shellfish in harvest areas that are open and approved for shellfish harvesting.  When people consume raw or undercooked bivalve molluscan shellfish, especially oysters, they could be susceptible to infection by Vibrio parahaemolyticus
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For first time, company owner faces life sentence for food poisoning outbreak   By Moni Basu, CNN Updated 7:54 AM ET, Mon September 21, 2015 Verdict delivered in salmonella trial 01:53Verdict delivered in salmonella trial Story highlights
  • A jury convicted Stewart Parnell of knowingly marketing tainted peanut paste
  • That paste was traced to the deadliest salmonella outbreak in recent years
  • Victims' families say Parnell deserves a harsh sentence
(CNN)Even after his mom died, Jeff Almer bought a Mother's Day card splashed in pastels and bearing the sweetest of words. He tucked a photo of his mother inside the card and addressed it to Stewart Parnell, the man who owned and ran Peanut Corporation of America. Inside, Almer wrote: I did not know where to send this to since my mother is no longer alive, so I am sending it to you, the person who is responsible for where she is today. Shirley Mae Almer, 72, survived lung cancer and a brain tumor, but not one of America's favorite foods: peanut butter. Parnell's company, PCA, had manufactured the creamy stuff that she slathered on her toast at a nursing home in Minnesota. It was laced with deadly salmonella.  
Shirley Almer, center, died of salmonella in peanut butter. Almer died a few days before Christmas in 2008. Her son sent the Mother's Day card to let Parnell know how he felt: "I know what you did. You know what you did. And I am not walking away from this." That was the only communication Almer ever had with Parnell, who was convicted a year ago in a groundbreaking food safety trial. On Monday, Almer will finally get a chance to directly address the man he accuses of his mother's death, when victims of that peanut butter salmonella outbreak will be allowed to speak at Parnell's sentencing. Parnell faces life in prison, according to court documents that detailed the sentencing guidelines. His brother and food broker, Michael Parnell, faces 17 years, and a plant manager, Mary Wilkerson, could be behind bars for five years.  
5 photos: Peanut butter trial It is the first time that a food executive has been convicted on federal felony charges linked to a food poisoning outbreak. A life sentence for Parnell would be the harshest sentence ever doled out. Almer, who became a food safety activist after his mother's death, was surprised by the potential sentence, as were others who have worked for years for stronger legislation and enforcement to keep America's food supply free of contamination. "Then again there is nothing to compare this to," Almer said. "This is unprecedented." 'Just ship it'
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Reason for Recall: Listeria Product(s): Certain Sabra brand hummus products Distribution: National Recall details Ottawa, November 19, 2016 - Sabra Canada Inc. is recalling certain Sabra brand hummus products from the marketplace due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Consumers should not consume the recalled products described below. The following products have been sold nationally. Recalled products Brand Name Common Name Size Code(s) on Product UPC Sabra Hummus Classic 283 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 02704 5 Sabra Hummus Classic 482 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 02712 0 Sabra Hummus Classic with Pretzels 129 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 01208 9
Sabra Hummus Classic with Pretzels 8 x 129 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 34213 1
Sabra Hummus Roasted Garlic 283 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 02706 9
Sabra Hummus Roasted Garlic 482 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 02713 7
Sabra Hummus Greek Olive 283 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 02708 3
Sabra Hummus Roasted Pine Nut 283 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 02705 2
Sabra Hummus Roasted Red Pepper 283 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 02707 6
Sabra Hummus Roasted Red Pepper 908 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 32862 3
Sabra Hummus Roasted Red Pepper with Pretzels 129 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 01209 6
Sabra Hummus Supremely Spicy 283 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 02709 0
Sabra Hummus Spinach and Artichoke 283 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 02774 8
Sabra Hummus Basil Pesto 283 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 34211 7
Sabra Hummus Sun Dried Tomato 283 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 02734 2
Sabra Hummus Roasted Red Pepper 482 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 34216 2
Sabra Hummus Caramelized Onion with Smoked Paprika 283 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 34284 1
Sabra Hummus Tuscan Herb 482 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 34203 2
Sabra Hummus Roasted Red Pepper 6 x 57 g (342 g) All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 34317 6
Sabra Hummus Classic 6 x 57 g (342 g) All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 34316 9
Sabra Hummus Rosemary and Sea Salt 283 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 34371 8
Sabra Hummus Spreads Honey Dijon 241 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 34395 4
Sabra Hummus Spreads Garlic Herb 241 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 34396 1
Sabra Hummus Spreads Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper 241 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 34394 7
Sabra Hummus Roasted Garlic with Pretzels 129 g All 'Best Before' dates up to and including January 23, 2017 0 40822 01210 2
What you should do If you think you became sick from consuming a recalled product, call your doctor. Check to see if you have recalled products in your home. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased. Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Symptoms can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache and neck stiffness. Pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, the infection can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn or even stillbirth. In severe cases of illness, people may die.
Learn more about the health risks Sign up for recall notifications by email, follow us on Twitter, or join the CFIA community on Facebook View our detailed explanation of the food safety investigation and recall process
Background This recall was triggered by a recall in another country. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (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.
Illnesses There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.
Link: http://inspection.gc.ca/about-the-cfia/newsroom/food-recall-warnings/complete-listing/2016-11-19/eng/1479617263429/1479617266581 
The next time you visit your favourite restaurant or food truck in Thunder Bay, you may see a letter grade posted near the entrance.
  • Changes to the city's bylaws now mandate that the results of the establishment's most recent food inspection — distilled to an A,B,C or D letter grade — be publicly posted.
  • The new rules are designed to increase compliance with safety standards and to reduce the risk of illness through the improper preparation or handling of food, according to officials with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit.
  • How it works
  • Food inspectors will continue to do routine checks governed by provincial law, according to public health documents.
  • The inspectors will then assign a score out of 100 to the restaurant, subtracting 15, 10 or 5 points for each "critical," "major," or "minor" infraction respectively.
  • The final score is then translated into a letter grade which will be displayed publicly:
  • ■A = 90 to 100
  • ■B = 75 to 89
  • ■C = 60 to 74
  • ■D = 59 and below
  • Food scorecards The four letter grades on scorecards that will be publicly displayed in Thunder Bay restaurants. (CBC)
  • Businesses that score a 'C' or 'D' will be subject to, at minimum, monthly re-inspections for three months, until a 'B' grade is maintained. A new audit will then be done to potentially assign a new score to be publicly posted.
  • Inspectors can still close an establishment outright if a serious health hazard is discovered, according to the health unit, adding that upon re-opening, the business will be assigned a 'D' grade, and subject to re-inspections.
  • Infractions
  • Infractions that the health unit deems "critical," and which come with a 15 point deduction, include things like improper refrigeration, cooling or heating food too quickly, improperly cooking food, not properly washing hands and the presence of cross-contamination of raw and ready-to-eat foods.
  • "Major" infractions, worth a 10 point deduction, include not using thermometers to check food temperatures when cooking, not having a dedicated or accessible hand-washing sink, not having hand soap, poor kitchen staff hygiene and improperly installed or maintained food preparation areas.
  • Finally, "minor" infractions, which come with a 5 point deduction, relate more to overall maintenance and cleanliness.
  • Early support
  • The health unit officially launched the program on January 18 and handed out its first letter grade — an 'A' — to Chinese Express.
  • Owner Myhanh Nguyen said she supports the initiative.
  • "By having this program it lets our customers know and be confident eating here knowing that we've received, and are at, an A grade level," she said.
  • Myhanh Nguyen
  • Myhanh Nguyen owns Chinese Express in Thunder Bay. (Jody Porter / CBC)
  • While this type of program is new to Thunder Bay, it is already taking place in "most other health units" across Ontario, a written release issued in conjunction with the program's launch stated.
  • According to public health officials, all 800 businesses that serve food in Thunder Bay will receive their scorecard by the end of the year.
  • Link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/thunder-bay-restaurant-scorecards-1.3945295
    The recall of flour in Canada has now expanded beyond the Robin Hood brand and includes 16 products sold across the country, all over concerns the flour could be contaminated with E. coli.
    • At least 26 people have become sick with a matching and dangerous strain of E.coli O121; six of them have needed to be hospitalized. The actual number of infected Canadians could be even higher, since E. coli sometimes causes only mild illness that might never be reported to hospitals. Most of us associate E. coli with raw ground beef or unpasteurized milk. But flour? How does that get contaminated with bacteria?
    • RELATED STORIES CFIA expands flour recall due to E. coli Class-action suit seeks damages for people who got sick from flour Food safety expert Scott Lougheed, a PhD candidate in the School of Environmental Studies at Queen's University, says while E. coli outbreaks caused by flour are not common, they can happen. E. coli is a bacterium that lives in the digestive tracts of humans and animals. Lougheed says it’s possible that if an infected animal or rodent walks through a wheat field and defecates there, they could leave infected feces behind. That material could then be gathered up by a wheat harvester and spread throughout the harvested grain. “Like many bacteria, E. coli prefer warm and moist environments,” says Lougheed, and flour mills can be ideal places for that bacteria to then grow.
    • The friction of the mills can create enough warmth to allow the bacteria to multiply, but not enough heat to kill it. And if any humidity enters the mill or the grain holding tanks, that can set up the ideal growth conditions.
    • E. coli also has the ability to survive in a dry environment, such as inside a flour bag on a store shelf. When that flour arrives home to our cupboards, it is still essentially the same wheat, Lougheed says. “When we use it, it’s in its raw form. It’s been milled and ground, but it’s raw. From the field to our counters, it hasn’t been cooked,” he explained to CTVNews.ca.
    • Other grains such as oats are steamed at the mill before they are rolled or cut; barley or rice are usually eaten cooked. But flour remains raw wheat.
    • The danger from contaminated flour isn’t that it ends up in our recipes. In fact, baking the flour will kill the E. coli. The real problem is that uncooked flour tends to get everywhere in our kitchens when we work with it, Lougheed says.
    • We can contaminate our counters and kitchen items when they come into contact with raw dough, and the flour itself can find its way everywhere. Since most home bakers don’t think of flour as a potential bacterial source, they don’t usually sanitize kitchen surfaces after working with it, Lougheed says. “We tend not to treat flour as a raw food; we treat it as a ready-to-eat product even though it’s not. So we don’t tend to wash our hands afterwards the way we would after handling raw chicken, for example,” he said. Because of that ability of flour to cross-contaminate surfaces, Lougheed says tracing flour-based E. coli outbreaks can be challenging. He says it’s often not enough to ask ill patients, “Did you eat raw cookie dough or pancake batter?’ What needs to be asked instead is, “Did you come into any contact with uncooked flour?” Neither Robin Hood nor Ardent Mills (where the flour was produced), has given any indication how this E. coli outbreak occurred, but Lougheed says preventing flour contamination in the first place is difficult, because of the challenges controlling conditions in farmers’ fields.
    • It is possible to heat-treat flour to kill off bacteria, but he says that process tends to ruin the flour's gluten. “So your bread wouldn’t puff up and be as chewy, your cakes wouldn’t be as tender. You’d be pretty disappointed about how it performs in our kitchens,” he said. Irradiation could help, he says, but the general public doesn’t like the idea of irradiation and the equipment is also “extraordinarily expensive,” says Lougheed, so smaller mills wouldn’t be able to afford it. As this CFIA investigation continues, Lougheed expects the number of recalled brands and products will expand further. “I expect we’ll see more recalls as we go forward. Robin Hood is a big flour maker. They are very likely to have lots of wholesale customers and commercial customers,” he said. “So this is probably just the beginning.”
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