Blaming consumers, New Brunswick edition

If weird things are being said about raw hamburger in Windsor, Ontario, it’s been food safety amateur hour in the public discussion of two apparently separate E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks this summer in New Brunswick.

Two months after an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that sickened up to 24 people was linked to California Romaine lettuce served at a Jungle Jim’s restaurant in Miramichi, New Brunswick, another outbreak sent two Fredericton teenagers to hospital and sickened at least another two people.

The Daily Gleaner reported that one of those teens, Micaella Boer, was thrilled when the infectious disease specialists at the Saint John Regional Hospital told her she could go home on a 24-hour pass Wednesday. That was some good news.

Unfortunately, the Gleaner felt it necessary to lecture consumers about safe eating practices, saying in a separate editorial that at home, “we have complete control.”

People at home have little to no control over fresh produce – especially lettuce – and a host of other foods such as contaminated peanut butter, spices, deli meats, pet food, frozen pizza, pot pies and so on. Parents and consumers have some responsibility; so does everyone else, farm-to-fork.