An outbreak of trichinellosis occurred in Japan in December 2016. All case-patients had eaten undercooked bear meat, from which Trichinella larvae were subsequently isolated. DNA sequencing analysis of the mitochondrial genes cytochrome c-oxidase subunit 1 and internal transcribed spacer 2 confirmed that Trichinella T9 had caused the outbreak.
Outbreak of Trichinella T9 infections associated with consumption of bear meat, Japan
Emerging Infectious Diseases vol. 24 no. 8
Katsushige Tada, Hiromichi Suzuki, Yosuke Sato, Yasuyuki Morishima, Isao Nagano, Haruhiko Ishioka, and Harumi Gomi
News of the outing emerged earlier this year after Discovery Wildlife Park, located about 70 miles north of Calgary in the town of Innisfail, posted a video on social media showing a captive Kodiak bear sitting in the passenger seat of a truck.
The video later showed the one-year-old bear, known as Berkley, leaning out of the truck’s window, enthusiastically licking an ice cream cone held by the owner of a local Dairy Queen.
Amid widespread criticism, the video – along with a second one showing Berkley licking frosting off an ice cream cake – was taken down.
At the time, the zoo said the drive-thru run had posed no danger to the public, as it had taken place before the Dairy Queen had opened for the day and that the bear had been secured by a chain throughout the entire outing.
Wildlife officials in Alberta said that the zoo and its owners are now facing two charges. “Under the terms and conditions of the zoo’s permit, the charges are directly related to the alleged failure of the park to notify the provincial government prior to the bear leaving the zoo,” Alberta Fish and Wildlife said in a statement.
One count stems from the bear’s jaunt through the drive-thru, while the other dates back to 2017. At the time Berkley had just arrived as an orphan from a facility in the United States and the zoo allegedly failed to inform officials the seven-pound bear was being taken home nightly so that she could be bottle-fed.
The zoo’s owner, Doug Bos, said he planned to plead guilty to the charges, noting that this was the first time in the zoo’s 28-year history that it was facing such charges.
“We made a mistake. I’m embarrassed about it,” he told the Guardian. “Every time we take an animal off the property, we’re supposed to notify Fish and Wildlife, send them an email, and we forgot to do that in both instances.”
He said he had been happy to hear of the charges. “I’m glad that they followed through with it because it shows how strictly regulated the zoo industry is in the province,” he said. “Because there are so many people out there that think it’s not, they think anybody can just do anything they want.”
Bos said that wildlife officials had not necessarily taken issue with the bear’s outing to Dairy Queen but rather the zoo’s failure to request permission beforehand. “That’s all we did wrong,” he added, noting that the bears have been taken off the property many times for a range of reasons.
“We’ve done lots of TV commercials, Super Bowl commercials with bears and food … Some of them the bear was in a grocery store and wandered up and down the aisles.”
He emphasised the difference between bears in the wild and the zoo’s bears, describing those in the facility as hand-raised and well-trained.
At one point the zoo’s bears had even learned to pee in a cup, he said, in order to participate in a Scottish veterinarian’s study aimed at measuring baseline norms for bears. “These bears aren’t just your average bear that we go snag out of the wild and do this.”
Robert Herriman of Outbreak News Today reports that at least 17 people, including several children have contracted the parasitic infection, trichinosis, after eating smoked brown bear cub in Kataiga village in the Tomsk region of Russia.
“The fact of poisoning is confirmed, 12 people were hospitalized, one victim was taken to Tomsk to SibGMU clinics.” All in all, there are 17 cases of trichinosis. “In total, 29 cases of poisoning were detected in the region,” said EDDU employee Verkhneketskiy district.
Robert Herriman of Outbreak News Today reports the number of people infected with the parasitic disease, trichinosis, has grown to 20 people in the Irkutsk region of Siberia, Russia, according to a Sib.fm report (computer translated).
The public health investigation reveals that the hunters contracted the parasite in May after preparing smoked bear meat which was consumed. Shortly after consuming the not fully cooked meat, they complained of feeling bad and went to the hospital.
CBC News reports that Le Binh Tina Tu, 61, who owns the Mandarin Palace, pleaded guilty to charges after the bear meat was discovered in a cooler at the Chinese restaurant during a routine inspection by the Department of Health on Dec. 20, 2011.
An inspection record posted on the government’s website on Dec. 21 said, "Food must be purchased from an approved source. Wild animals are not approved."
"I will be reopened today," said Tu. "I am preparing everything brand new, my chicken balls and my egg rolls."
Tu said she sat down with government investigators to discuss how and why rancid parts of a black bear were found in her restaurant’s cooler. She told The Daily Gleaner she agreed to keep the bear for one of her customers, but the customer later told her to keep the bear.
Tu didn’t know what to do with it and was getting conflicting advice on how to dispose of it.
"I hope everybody understands that I never touched the bear. I didn’t eat it and I wouldn’t serve it to people," Tu said.
Tu said customers know that chicken is chicken and beef is beef.
"They can taste. They know. There’s the difference. I don’t want people to be scared. I didn’t touch anything with the bear," she said.
The Health Department said the condition of the bear meat created a high risk for cross-contamination. Officials told Tu and her husband Johnny — the restaurant’s co-owners — the cooler where the bear was stored had to be stripped bare of its contents and sanitized prior to reinspection. The department also said it would provide information on food-handling techniques and food safety.
The meat, found in the on Tuesday, was turned over to the Department of Natural Resources. An investigation is ongoing.
The restaurant was closed because of concerns the bear meat could have contaminated other contents in the cooler, but the risk to public health is very low, the Department of Health said in a statement.
An inspection record posted on the government’s website said, "Food must be purchased from an approved source. Wild animals are not approved."
The restaurant will remain closed until the cooler has been properly cleaned.
Samples of the bear meat have been sent out to test for trichinella, a parasite that can be transmitted to humans through consumption of raw or undercooked infected bear meat.
The man, who was trying to get the creatures onto a first-class flight to Dubai from Suvarnabhumi airport, was charged with smuggling endangered species out of Thailand, according to Colonel Kiattipong Khawsamang of the Nature Crime Police.
He said one of the bags had been abandoned in an airport lounge because the animals were being too noisy.
The animals were taken into the care of local veterinarians.
Not quite sure how the editors at The Independent got to zoo animals in the headline.
Chef Dave Arnold, director of culinary technology at the International Culinary Center’s French Culinary Institute, blogs in a Nov. 8 blog entry written for Popular Science magazine’s Web site, that those who prefer tougher meat should enjoy wild game even more than standard meat and poultry, which he says are generally butchered young to ensure tenderness, and lack the flavor of their full-grown counterparts.
Arnold’s tastes are nothing new – during the Middle Ages, bear meat consumption was symbolic, and bear paws are still considered a delicacy in Cantonese cuisine. Beaver meat has been eaten by indigenous North American populations for generations.
Exotic meats are generally avoided due to concerns over bacterial contamination and animal cruelty. However, in light of recent fears of listeriosis sparked by common meats found in neighborhood supermarkets, people may be more willing to step out of their comfort zones this Thanksgiving.
But no one got sick in the listeria positive recall cited in the story because at least someone was looking (in this case, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service). And the public was warned. Recalls are not the same as outbreaks.
Dave Arnold’s Low-Temperature Game Cooking Notes
In all cases sear the meat first and put into Zip-loc bags with butter. Cook in an immersion circulator for the prescribed times, then sear again for a minute or two per side on high heat.
Yak: cook at 56°C for 24 hours. Rich and gamey, with notes of duck.
Lion: 57°C for 24 hours. Tastes like pork but richer.
Black bear: 57°C for 3 hours. Tastes a little bloody and metallic. Younger bears are reportedly better.
Beaver tail: 60°C for 48 hours. Woodsy, delicious.
Duck, and birds that cook like duck (teal, widgeon): 57-58°C for 45 minutes to an hour for the breast. Braise the legs.
Squab: 56°C for 45 minutes for the breast. Braise the leg.
Raccoon: I recommend cooking raccoon in a traditional braise.
Finally, a use for all that zucchini rather than dumping it on unsuspecting friends and neighbors.
When a 90-kilogram black bear attacked a Missoula County woman’s dogs just after midnight on Wednesday on the back porch of her home, she tried to separate the animals, and was bit in the leg by the bear.