Canadians say: Update to the Vibrio parahamolyticus guideline

This notice provides an update to the information published on October 20, 2015 regarding the management of the risks of Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) in raw oysters. Effective immediately, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is expanding the scope of application of the bacteriological guideline for Vp in live oysters.

Oyster-Vancouver, B.C.- 07/05/07- Joe Fortes Oyster Specialist Oyster Bob Skinner samples a Fanny Bay oyster at the restuarant. Vancouver Coastal Health now requires restaurants to inform their patrons of the dangers of eating raw shellfish. (Richard Lam/Vancouver Sun) [PNG Merlin Archive]

The interim bacteriological guideline for Vp, found in the CFIA’s Fish Products Standards and Methods Manual will now apply to all live oysters (end product), whether domestically produced or imported. This means that no sample can exceed 100 MPN per gram in each of five subsamples.

Importers, domestic processors and exporters are responsible for ensuring that fish and seafood products meet all applicable regulatory requirements, including the regulations made under the authority of the Fish Inspection Act.

Quality Management Program Importers (QMPI) and fish processing establishments must outline and implement controls to ensure that any significant health and safety hazards identified are controlled for fish imported into Canada, or processed in Canada.

Federally registered establishments must review their Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan to ensure that the measures, as a whole, to eliminate or reduce Vp to an acceptable level are effective in ensuring the live oysters meet the updated Vp guideline. Until the review of the HACCP plan is completed and the measures are determined to be effective, additional interim measures (e.g. lot by lot testing of the oysters) are necessary to ensure compliance. Interim measures must be initiated when conditions are favourable for Vp (identified as water or oyster meat temperature at point of harvest equal to or greater than 15°C or testing of Vp in oysters at the harvest area showing persistent levels at or near 100 Vp MPN/g).

Importers must ensure that the live oysters they import meet Canadian regulatory requirements, including the updated Vp guideline. They must also verify that the oysters have been harvested, handled, stored and conveyed in a manner which adequately manages the risk of Vp.

QMPI licence holders that import live oysters must review and amend their QMPI plan. This will ensure that effective controls are in place so that the oysters comply with the updated Vp guideline.

The CFIA will continue to verify that appropriate controls for Vp in oysters have been implemented; through its regular activities at federally registered processing establishments and with importers using inspections, audits and sampling and testing.

Health Canada is reviewing available Vp data, which may result in further revision to the interim guideline. Until this review is completed, the CFIA will apply the interim guideline to all live oysters sold in Canada, in order to continue to protect consumers. 

The CFIA is preparing additional guidance to assist industry in understanding and managing the Vp hazard.  This information will be available on CFIA’s website.  Industry is encouraged to subscribe to the e-mail notification service to be notified when CFIA manuals are updated.

I’m barfing; does it matter where foodborne illness happens?

Some people publish in peer-reviewed journals; some publish reports; some publish for a vanity press.

According to a report from the U.S. Center for Science in the Public Interest, outbreak data show that Americans are twice as likely to get food poisoning from food prepared at a restaurant than food prepared at home.

Except that outbreaks from a restaurant — where many people could be exposed to risk — are much more likely to get reported.

blame_canadaI don’t know where most outbreaks happen, but I do know there are a lot of people and groups that make bullshit statements.

It’s OK to say, I don’t know. Especially when followed with, this is what I’m doing to find out more. And when I find out more, you’ll hear if from me first.

And yes, one could argue that it matters where foodborne illness happens to more efficiently allocate preventative resources, but we’re not even close to that in terms of meaningful data collection.

C.J. Jacob and D.A. Powell. 2009. Where does foodborne illness happen—in the home, at foodservice, or elsewhere—and does it matter? Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. November 2009, 6(9): 1121-1123

Foodservice professionals, politicians, and the media are often cited making claims as to which locations most often expose consumers to foodborne pathogens. Many times, it is implied that most foodborne illnesses originate from food consumed where dishes are prepared to order, such as restaurants or in private homes. The manner in which the question is posed and answered frequently reveals a speculative bias that either favors homemade or foodservice meals as the most common source of foodborne pathogens. Many answers have little or no scientific grounding, while others use data compiled by passive surveillance systems. Current surveillance systems focus on the place where food is consumed rather than the point where food is contaminated. Rather than focusing on the location of consumption—and blaming consumers and others—analysis of the steps leading to foodborne illness should center on the causes of contamination in a complex farm-to-fork food safety system.

Canada – it’s not even a real country anyway

Is it Canada Day or Canada Dry?

Thanks Sarah Silverman.

Canada, the summit of mediocrity, and where a Maple Leafs jersey can only be cool 15,000 miles away.

That’s Sorenne with teacher Nancy at pre-school. Nancy was born in Arnprior, raised in Pembroke that’s near Ottawa, in Canada (hello Alanis).

To my fans at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency who think my mentions of geography is derogatory and are once again dispensing crappy food safety advice for Canada Day, I have readers in 69 other countries who aren’t as self-important as Canada.

Nancy said, I don’t suppose you’d know where Pembroke is, which was the perfect launching point into a twisted tale of hallucinogens, backroads with my friend Dave and my high school sweetheart’s family cottage in nearby Barry’s Bay.

Nancy said I had an evil past.

I said I just like to tell stories.

Nancy was arranging pancakes and maple syrup for today, but they don’t let me cook – even though I volunteered – after I showed up with my own tip sensitive digital thermometer.

Canada Day – it’s not even a real country anyway. 

Happy Canada Day Kiwis

July 1st is Canada Day, so being in New Zealand and feeling patriotic I decided to make butter tarts, a Canadian baked dessert (pictured right). While making the filling– which consists of brown sugar, eggs and cream — my flatmate had a spoonful of the unbaked filling. I warned her about the raw eggs, but she shrugged and tasted it anyways, saying it was delicious.

Since being in New Zealand I’ve noticed a difference in egg handling than in North America. Eggs are not found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, rather just on store shelves, and many consumers do not refrigerate eggs at home. Doug says it’s because the country just got electricity 10 years ago, and beer is the primary occupant of the fridge; however, a more scientific explanation follows:

A 2007 survey of retail eggs for Salmonella found,

The results of this survey are consistent with two previous studies in indicating an absence of internal contamination of New Zealand eggs and enumeration tests have shown that the number of Salmonella present on the surface of contaminated eggs is low.

The pilot study suggests that, in New Zealand, the risk to consumers from Salmonella in eggs is low. Food handling practices that minimise the possibility of cross contamination from shells will further reduce the risk.

I still keep eggs in the fridge, and will avoid the temptation of eating raw cookie dough.