Beer tampering mystery solved; Bob and Doug fingered

If Canadian cattle or chickens or pigs get sick, the public is told all about it. If Canadian people get sick, not so much.

Like the salmonella in fruit salad outbreak from summer 2006, in which 41 culture-confirmed Salmonella serotype Oranienburg infections were diagnosed in persons in 10 northeastern U.S. states and one Canadian province. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports in a summary report today that the culprit was likely cantaloupe, served in fruit salad in health care facilities.

As Ben Chapman and I have written (left, not exactly as shown) it’s not the first time Canadians have been told about food safety problems in Canada by U.S. authorities. But you know all those folks at Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada and that Canadian Food Inspection Agency are very important and busy people.

But there are a couple of areas where Canadians shine.

Hundreds can be sickened by food in Canada — like the 650 sickened in southern Ontario in fall 2005 by Salmonella in fresh sprouts — and no one will get sued. Sicken a Canadian’s pet, like with the melamine-contaminated pet food earlier this year, and Canadians are first in the lawsuit line.

But Canada’s real strength is beer.

Canadian Press reports today that Labatt breweries has solved the mystery of how some tainted bottles of Stella Artois were served to customers in Toronto and Kamloops, B.C.

Labatt corporate affairs vice president Neil Sweeney says the company created several displays for the beer and one of its suppliers filled the display bottles with concentrated alcohol.

Sweeney says, after speaking with thousands of bar owners across the country, Labatt discovered that some of the displays had been dismantled and the bottles placed behind the bars and eventually served to customers.

Labatt and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency warned consumers in July about cases of suspected tampering after ethanol was found in bottles of Stella Artois beer.

Several people drank some of the ethanol, although no one became ill.

Sweeney says settlements have been negotiated with some of the customers but he is not revealing how much compensation has been paid.

Oh, and at the wine and cheese festival at Disney in Orlando on the weekend, Amy and I went to the Canadian booth, where they were serving Labatt’s Blue.

I said to the Canadian behind the tap, "Blue is the best we can do?"

He directed me to another stand that at least had Moosehead.

This entry was posted in E. coli and tagged , , , , by Douglas Powell. Bookmark the permalink.

About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time