Blockchain won’t stop this: Walmart manager fined $40,000 for selling contaminated food after Fort McMurray wildfire

David Thurton of CBC reports that  Walmart Canada and its district loss prevention manager were fined $20,000 each after pleading guilty Monday to 10 charges of selling contaminated food following the May 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire. 

The retailer has also agreed to donate $130,000 to the Red Cross.

The retail giant and Darren Kenyon pleaded guilty in Fort McMurray provincial court.

“Unfortunately, during the confusion of the unprecedented 2016 wildfire crisis in Alberta, we didn’t adequately carry out an order from Alberta Health to dispose of certain food items in the Fort Mac store prior to reopening,” Walmart said Monday in a statement attributed to Rob Nicol, the company’s vice-president of corporate affairs.

“For this, we sincerely apologize to our customers and Alberta Health. Food safety and the safety of our customers is our top priority. We have learned from this experience and will be better able to respond in future crises to support the community. As part of our commitment, Walmart has recently made a donation to the Red Cross to support ongoing disaster preparedness, relief and recovery operations.”

Walmart and Kenyon admitted to displaying, storing and selling food that was not fit for human consumption after the wildfire.

The food included pickles, beef jerky, spices, pretzels, mints, stuffing mixes, vinegar, salad dressings, corn starch and yeast.

80 sick: Outbreak at Fort McMurray oilsands camps

An outbreak of gastro-intestinal illness has hit work camps near the Fort Hills oilsands site, 90 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, an Alberta Health Services spokesperson said Monday.

vomit-fbAHS Public Health is aware of the illness, Kerry Williamson said in an emailed statement. “It has not been confirmed as norovirus,” he added.

A Suncor spokesperson said about 80 people at Fort Hills have reported symptoms.

No flights to or from the camps have been cancelled, Suncor said. But workers showing symptoms are being asked not to board flights but to remain in their rooms.

Williamson said outbreaks of this type are not unusual at this time of year, particularly at sites where people are living and working in close quarters. 

He said inspectors visited the site Monday, and AHS Public Health provided information over the weekend, to help limit the spread of the illness.

Stomach bug outbreak at Fort McMurray wildfire evacuation centres declared over

After 307 cases of gastro-intestinal illnesses were reported at evacuation centres between May 6 and June 1, health officials declared the outbreak over Rescue-Me-Season-Monday.

Alberta Health Services said it was no longer seeing a spike in stomach illness connected to any evacuation or reception area related to the Fort McMurray wildfire.

Grocers open their doors for returning Fort McMurray residents

The most powerful food safety chat I ever heard was in was June 2006.

donations-for-evacueesChapman and I were talking at a U.S. Food and Drug Administration regional meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Amy tagged along and we went to Canada.

I think.

A few of the FDA folks who had been the first in after Hurricane Katrina in Aug. 2005 in New Orleans had an after-hours pub chat session. The food safety stories were remarkable to hear, the stress still visibly impacting those who had been there.

I’ve heard similar food safety stories and enduring nightmares from first responders in Walkerton, Ontario in 2000, and in Christchurch, N.Z.  after the earthquake in 2011.

Mark Cardwell of Canadian Grocer writes that Craig Anderson, Overwaitea Food Group’s general manager of operations for Canada’s three prairie provinces, says Fort McMurray is usually a bustling place with traffic and people coming and going in all directions at any time of day.

But there’s an eerie silence this week as residents begin returning home after last month’s devastating fire.

“Things are unusually quiet,” Anderson said from the Save-On-Foods store at Fort McMurray’s Stoneycreek Village mall just minutes after it officially reopened on Wednesday.

It was the first of the banner’s three locations in the city to reopen.

Only a few other local food stores have also reopened, including Safeway and Walmart locations in the city’s centre.

Anderson said a small but steady trickle of customers had been coming into the store since 8 a.m., when doors opened. They’ve been buying basic food items, cleaning supplies and, especially, water, since a boil-water advisory is still in effect.

“I’ve been to a lot of store openings, but never one like this,” quipped Anderson. “The mood is serious and sombre.”

Before reopening, grocers have to adhere to strict guidelines put out by Alberta Health Services.

Titled “Reopening your food establishment after a wildfire”,  the five-page guideline contains a series of steps to deal with the potential damages and risks to people and food from fire, smoke, ash, soot, fire retardant chemicals, water and loss of power.

Food in refrigerators, coolers and freezers, for example, has to be discarded if the temperature exceeded 4 degrees Celsius at any time since May 3, when city residents were forced to flee in what was the largest emergency evacuation in Canadian history.

All exposed food items—from open foods and packaged foods (including paper, cardboard boxes, plastic and cellophane) to single-service items and bottles and jars of food with screw-top lids or crown/crimp caps—also had to be tossed.