‘I’ve never made anyone sick before’ Hometown fairytale after 100 sickened

Brantford, Ontario, my hometown where the telephone, Wayne Gretzgy and Massey-Ferguson combines were all birthed (it’s in Canada) has convicted a DIY caterer linked to a food poisoning outbreak last year.

massey-ferguson-combineLana Plank of Lana Plank Catering was fined $500.

Plank was charged last December after an extensive investigation into how about 100 people became sick after eating a lunch she prepared in September 2015.

Those affected were among more than 150 people at a daylong workshop held by Brant Family and Children’s Services at the South Dumfries Community Centre in St. George. The resulting illnesses – cramps, diarrhea, headaches and nausea – affected the agency for days with some staff feeling the effects two weeks later.

The investigation tracked the problem to the egg and potato salad wraps made and served by Plank. The food was contaminated with plesiomonas shigelloides, inked to raw shellfish and unsanitary conditions, and enterotoxigenic escherichia coli, a common cause of traveller’s diarrhea.

Plank was not a registered caterer in Brant County at the time of the incident, nor inspected by the Brant County Health Unit. But justice of the peace Audrey Greene Summers was told Plank, a resident of Waterford, is a registered caterer in Norfolk County.

She was originally charged with operating a food premise without notifying the health unit but that charge was dropped upon her guilty plea.

Defence lawyer John Renwick said Plank has been in business for many years and has worked for a long-term care facility with no previous problems.

Renwick said Plank believes the symptoms suffered by the agency employees could have been part of a wider bug going around the community.

“Those are suspicions on her part but she’s not in a position to challenge (the agreed upon facts),” said Renwick.

He also noted that Plank did not receive a list of food to which people were allergic.

The case drew the attention of Public Health Ontario and saw the local health unit interview many of those affected, solicit surveys from others and obtain results from several laboratories. The case was based on stool samples and an extensive analysis of data.

“I’d like to commend our staff for their hard work on this incident,” Jeff Kowal, manager of environmental health for the health unit, said in written statement released late Tuesday.

“This was a prime example of the important role the health unit plays in investigating cases of food-borne illness to keep our community safe and healthy.”

Kowal said food safety is taken seriously by the health unit. All food service workers must use safe food handling practices to prevent food-borne illnesses.

He reminded people hiring a caterer to first visithttp://inspectionreports.bchu.org to see the reports on inspected caterers.

Maybe the Brant County health unit should practice what it preaches.




Maybe charge whoever booked the caterer: Criminal action called for in Brantford outbreak that sickened 94

The chief doctor in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, is recommending charges be laid against an unlicensed caterer connected with an outbreak of foodborne illness that sickened about 100 staff at Brant Family and Children’s Services last month.

chicken-wrap-300x193Dr. Malcolm Lock, Brant County medical officer of health, told board of health members on Wednesday that he believes enough information has been gathered during the investigation into the outbreak to warrant the laying of charges under the Health Protection and Promotion Act. The suggested charges relate to serving food unfit for human consumption and operating as an unlicensed caterer.

The scope of the outbreak necessitated the health unit “do everything we can under the law,” Lock said.

He said that consultations are underway with the local Crown’s office but no final decision had been made regarding the charges. If and when charges are laid, the caterer’s name would be released, he said.

Lock issued an order that the caterer not cater any functions or handle any food for public consumption.

Word about possible charges comes nearly six weeks after a Sept. 10 luncheon, organized by Brant Family and Children’s Services and held at the South Dumfries Community Centre in St. George, that resulted in nearly 100 people becoming ill with quick-onset gastrointestinal symptoms including cramping and often severe diarrhea. Those attending the luncheon were served a catered lunch of egg salad wraps, chicken wraps and potato salad.

By Oct. 5, the health unit had reported that almost all those who became ill had recovered.

The transportation of the food was “totally inadequate,” Lock told board members on Wednesday.

In addition, it was earlier confirmed that the caterer was not registered with the health unit nor inspected by food inspectors.

Stool samples from those sickened were sent to health laboratories for identification and two organisms were later confirmed as culprits.

One was identified as Plesiomonas shigelloides, an organism often associated with raw shellfish and unsanitary conditions, and usually associated with tropical or sub-tropical regions.

Tests later confirmed the presence of a second organism, enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli, also known at ETEC, in samples sent to health laboratories for identification. ETEC is most commonly associated with traveller’s diarrhea, Lock said.

Board members heard Wednesday that the caterer had returned from a trip to Haiti shortly before the luncheon.

94 sickened at staff retreat; further test results sought

Health types in Brantford, Ontario, Canada have revealed that 94 people at a staff retreat could have sickened by Plesiomonas shigelloides.

WanyeGretzkyParkway“We’ve had just one positive result,” warned infectious diseases manager Ruth Gratton of the Brant County Health Unit.

“That is not enough evidence to confirm this organism

About half of those who ate at a Brant Family and Children’s Services staff event on Sept. 10 at the South Dumfries Community Centre in St. George became sick after a catered lunch that included egg salad wraps, chicken wraps and potato salad.

Dozens of workers began calling in sick the next day with severe abdominal cramping and diarrhea. Many had to consult a doctor and several went to the emergency department with intensive symptoms.

The caterer involved in the luncheon has been ordered, until further notice, to stop providing food service in the Brantford or Brant County. If the caterer is found to be at fault, it can be charged under the Health Protection Act.

At Brant Family and Children’s Services, things are returning to normal. “My sense is that a handful of staff are still off (but) I don’t have exact numbers,” Patrick Banning, director of administration at the BFCS, said Tuesday.

Gratton said area health-care providers were asked to notify the unit if any complications arose from the 94 cases but no one has been in touch.

Food poisoning sickens 80-100 child protection employees in Brantford (Canada)

I remember Brantford, Ontario, Canada, where I grew up, but I’m not sure Brantford wants to remember me.

massey.fergusonWayne Gretzky, Massey-Ferguson, the telephone (my dad may be in this pic, he was head of quality control at the Brantford plant that made combines for the world, and I was always proud of that).

But that’s another discussion, and this is a food safety blog.

So it pains me to write that the good folk of Brantford, all 94,000 and where my parents still live, had more than 80 child protection employees sickened by food poisoning last week, a situation that has decimated working teams at the Brant Family and Children’s Services agency.

Executive director Andy Koster said Thursday staff at the agency has been scrambling to help cover shifts after between 80-100 workers called in sick, beginning last Friday.

“Some people have symptoms that are going on well beyond the regular time associated with food poisoning,” Koster said. “But people are working really hard to deliver our services and those who aren’t ill are doing double duty.”

Koster said staff at the agency plans a once-a-year getaway event where all staff take part. A professional speaker addressed issues of stress management and dealing with the trauma many child protection workers face. This year’s event was held at the St. George Arena and a professional caterer was hired to feed the 200-plus people at the day-long conference. Koster said egg salad wraps, chicken wraps and potato salad were all on the menu for lunch.

“On Friday morning we had people calling saying ‘we’re down four people on our unit’ and people were reporting stomach pains and diarrhea.”

gretzkyWorkers continued to call in sick, although Koster said some employees, knowing their colleagues were more ill, came to work.

Bad idea.

Maybe get a food safety type next year. Not me, but someone who can credibly address food safety issues (without the baggage). Chapman? He’s a Port Hope boy.doug.hockey.goalie

Karen Boughner, the unit’s director of health protection said the unit will not identify the caterer at this point, noting the problem may have been totally out of her hands if it was a contaminated product she purchased for the event.

Except caterers should know better, and know their suppliers.

Boughner said the situation wasn’t made public sooner because it didn’t affect the general public.

That’s just embarrassing.

BBQ safely with Douglas Powell

Look, I’m goofy. Probably the Brantford, Ontario, water, cause hometown pal Wayne Gretzky sure looked goofy on The Young and the Restless in 1981.

I don’t want to be on video. But if that’s what it takes to get the message out about how to safely grill burgers this holiday weekend, then why not.

As I wrote the N.Y. Times today in response to their July 1, 2009 piece, The Perfect Burger and All Its Parts, Chef Seamus Mullen’s recommendation to use any thin piece of metal into the side of a burger, and “if it’s barely warm to the lips, it’s rare. If it’s like bath water, it’s medium rare” only demonstrates the divide between food safety and food pornography.

The only thin piece of metal that should be stuck into the side of a hamburger is a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

Color is a lousy indicator of burger safety, as is the taste of metal sticks. Rather than putting E. coli O157:H7 on precious testing lips – stick a thermometer in.