Guess Who? Guelph food safety needs more than press releases

I got a haircut yesterday.

There was some XM Satellite classic rock station on in the background, so I got to expound yet again about the Journey effect, Fargo Rock City and bad radio music in the Midwest, and Canadian bands who had made it big (a song by The Guess Who came on; I spoke with Burton Cummings on an airplane a few years ago, and was able to quip about Randy Bachman’s stomach surgery as he was sitting in with the band on Letterman the other night; Bachman and Cummings never registered the band’s name, The Guess Who, so some posers tour under that name, sorta like the Food Safety Network at the University of Guelph cause I didn’t bother to register the name).

I had just posted a blog about the E. coli O157 outbreak at the University of Guelph, and was all chatty about that, so I said to my hair person, Virginia, if you made 6-figures running some aspect of a university, and 20 people got sick from eating in one of your food service outlets, what would you say?

"I’d say I was sorry."

Me too.

“The University regrets any inconvenience or concerns this situation may have caused.”

The U of G community was shaken up by the serious outbreak of E. coli on campus, said Chuck Cunningham, U of G’s director of communication and public affairs.

"It’s a surprise and a shock to us that this has happened," he said.

Steps have been taken to ensure that food operations on campus are safe, Cunningham said, adding that he bought a salad from a university cafeteria for lunch yesterday.

"It seemed to me like it was business as usual," he said.

I’d start by looking at suppliers, follow through to employee handling, handwashing policies  and whether sick employees are pressured to work. This ain’t rocket surgery.

A press release from the University said yesterday that,

“Although health officials said it’s unlikely that the source of the outbreak will ever be identified, they believe it’s an isolated incident.”

How do they know it’s an isolated incident if the source of the outbreak is never identified?

The press release also states that information about E. coli is available through the Ontario Ministry of Health.

Doesn’t the University of Guelph have some food safety group that bills itself as a “Reliable Information Source” and runs a phone line to answer food safety questions?  I must be having a Guess Who moment again.

Love that Canadian flag.