1 sick: Smoked lake trout recalled in Canada due to potential presence of C. botulinum

I was food shopping at Coles, one-half of the supermarket duopoly in Australia, and an announcement came over through the normal background music of 1980s punk – I’m sure The Clash aspired to have London Calling played as muzak in a grocery store full of old people – that smoked (farmed) trout was being introduced.

Trout is the only aquaculture species in Ontario (that’s in Canada), so I knew my friend Steve would be pleased.

Except when the trout carries botulism because of lousy processing.

Yummy Market Inc. is recalling Yummy Market brand Smoked Lake Trout w/Pepper with Cracked Black Pepper from the marketplace because it may permit the growth of Clostridium botulinum. Consumers should not consume the recalled product described below.

The following product has been sold from Yummy Market – 1390 Major Mackenize Drive W, Maple, ON

If you think you became sick from consuming a recalled product, call your doctor.

Food contaminated with Clostridium botulinum toxin may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick.

This recall was triggered by a consumer complaint. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing recalled product from the marketplace.

There has been one reported illness that may be associated with the consumption of this product.

Canadian soup recalled because of C. bot risk

Raices Food Inc. is recalling Verano Food Purveyors brand Mushroom Soup from the marketplace because it may permit the growth of Clostridium botulinum. Consumers should not consume the recalled products.

verano.soup.botThis recall was triggered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) inspection activities. CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing recalled product from the marketplace.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.

Bacon jam recalled in Alberta due to Clostridium botulinum risk

Bacon jam (a Canadian phenomenon) hasn’t had a good year. A version of the spreadable meat was the source of an outbreak of Staphylococcus aureus affecting over 200 people at Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition in August. The jam, with a pH of 5.8 and water activity of 0.97, was stored unrefrigerated and served to fair goers on cronut hamburgers.bacon-spread-recall

A similar jam produced by Kitchen by Brad Smoliak has been recalled in Alberta after Canadian Food Inspection Agency officials said that the product could permit the growth (and subsequent toxin formation) of Clostridium botulinum.

Recalled products
Brand Name: Kitchen by Brad Smoliak
Common Name: Bacon by brad smoliak
Size: 125 g or 125 ml
Code(s) on Product: Best Before 14 MA 14 and 14 JL 14

This recall was triggered by Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) test results. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation into other production codes, which may lead to the recall of other products. There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

Kitchen by Brad Smoliak, practicing good communication has the following on their website:

I learned today that certain batches of my Bacon Jam, or Bacon by Brad Smoliak, product may permit the growth of Clostridium botulinum, or the bacteria that can cause botulism.
I deeply regret the concern and uncertainty this may cause you. I am a chef that lives in a culture of food safety. I have an unwavering commitment to keeping your food safe with standards that go beyond regulatory requirements. I acknowledge that my best efforts failed and I am sorry.

The same day we learned of this possibility, we worked with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to execute a full recall of the product. There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product. The recall does not include any other Kitchen by Brad food product. The affected product was made in an off-site manufacturing facility and not at Kitchen.

I understand that your confidence in my products may be shaken, but I commit to you that my actions today and in the future will always be guided by putting your interests first.

From Smoliak’s comments it sounds like a copacker was used for this product. Practicing good communication is fine but choosing a service provider who can identify hazards and actually employ correct control measures for each recipe is a smart business decision.

3 with botulism in Canada; certain Lotus Fine Foods salted and cured fish (fesikh) recall expanded

The public warning issued on April 19, 2012, has been expanded to include additional products.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is warning the public not to consume the salted and cured fish products (fesikh) described below because they may be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum.Toxins produced by this bacteria may cause botulism, a life-threatening illness.

There have been 3 reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

The following vacuum packaged fish products are affected by this alert: whole fesikh mullet and cut up fesikh mullet in oil. These products were sold in packages of varying count and weight, bearing no code or date information.

These products were sold from Lotus Catering and Fine Food, 1960 Lawrence Ave. E, Toronto, ON, on or before April 17, 2012.

Sushi + bacteria = barf

I was always skeptical when it came to sushi because of hands constantly touching the rice, fish, and other ingredients that go in the roll. Rice is notorious for harbouring bacteria such as Bacillus cereus, a nasty little germ that is capable of forming a spore and can cause one to seriously embark on a journey of barfing. One of the critical control points in controlling the growth of this bacterium is to acidify the rice, that is, attain a pH of <4.6. Synder1 reports that a pH of less than 4.6 will retard the growth of this bacterium and others such as Clostridium botulinum. I remember when I attempted to make sushi at home, I added enough vinegar to the rice that one bite would have given you an instant gastric ulcer, so I stopped. But are food operators’ testing their product to ensure the rice is at a pH of <4.6?

The Arizona Daily Star reports that Sushi Ten was reported in having 11 critical health violations.

Sushi Ten, a midtown eatery specializing in raw seafood, failed its first health inspection with a new owner, Pima County reported Monday.

The restaurant, which for several years held the top spot for sushi in the Tucson Weekly’s annual "Best of Tucson" survey, amassed 11 critical food-safety violations during an inspection last Wednesday. Critical violations are those that carry the risk of spreading food-borne illness, and an eatery receives a provisional rating if a county sanitarian notices five or more of them.

Sushi Ten, 4500 E. Speedway, will be reinspected within 10 days, said Sharon Browning, manager of the county Consumer Health and Food Safety unit.

Sushi Ten’s owner, David Lam, who took over the restaurant in May, said many of the violations stemmed from his employees not being fully aware of Pima County’s health code. He said he plans to attend a county class to learn more about safe food preparation and to educate his employees.

Most of the violations were corrected during the course of the inspection, Lam said.

The violations included employees failing to wash their hands after handling raw food or dirty dishes, food not being kept at the proper temperature, and potentially hazardous food not being properly date-marked.


1. Synder, O.P. (2000A). Sushi rice HACCP. Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management.

Bittman article updated: now includes safety information

Maybe it was barfblog influenced, maybe not. My previous post on Mark Bittman’s garlic and other stuff in oil was a letter to the editor I submitted to the New York Times on Friday night. As the Times likes to have exclusive first printing right I held off on posting the letter until last night (since I hadn’t heard whether it was going to be printed).

This morning, esteemed New York Times watch-dog blogger NYTpicker, noted that the botulism-promoting Bittman article has been updated to include some safety tips:

Correction: July 1, 2009
A recipe on Page 4 today with the Minimalist column, about infused oils, corrects two errors that appeared in the recipe when it was published at
nytimes.com on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The online recipe misstated the amount of time the oil should cook after it bubbles and the length of time it is safe to use after being refrigerated. The oil should be cooked five minutes, not “a minute or two,” and it should be kept in the refrigerator no more than a week, not “a month or so.” The corrected version can also be found at nytimes.com/dining.

Botulism in Companeros enchiladas … in France

I didn’t know French people had discovered enchiladas, and much less those you can buy in the grocery store. That’s one food I often crave when traveling for an extended period in France, and it’s my standby order at my first visit to any Mexican restaurant. But obviously someone in France is buying enchiladas because two people are now reported in serious but stable condition in a French hospital after eating Companeros brand chicken enchiladas. Several of the national ministries have issued a recall of all enchilada and fajita products from Companeros, regardless of the expiration date. Apparently the source of the Clostridium botulinum bacteria is not yet completely identified as the recall requests that people do not discard the meals. Instead, they should be returned to the store so that further analysis can take place.

In case you’re paranoid, like I am, about getting botulism or other illnesses, there are a few facts you should know…

  • Symptoms occur on average between 6 and 36 hours (and not more than 15 days) after consumption of the contaminated food
  • Botulism can cause serious complications such as paralysis and death
  • Common symptoms include difficulty swallowing or speaking, facial weakness, double vision, trouble breathing, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and paralysis 
  • Botulism commonly grows at room temperature in an anaerobic environment – that means when food is deprived of air. Risky foods include potatoes left in aluminum foil at room temperature
  • In 2006, 7 people were stricken due to botulism in bottled carrot juice
  • Botulism cannot be transmitted between humans

Check out the FDA’s Bad Bug Book for more detailed botulism information.