‘I don’t walk around with baby puke on me’: Breastfeeding mom forced to quit selling at Halifax market

Tanessa Holt opened her first business in the fall, selling dry foods at local farmers’ markets. She said she has been forced to stop selling containers of soup mix, homemade protein bars and energy balls, and prepackaged oatmeal and granola.

tanessa-holtHolt was bringing her 7½-month-old son to the markets, since he has never liked taking bottles and is still dependent on breast milk.

But that was a problem, a food safety inspector told Holt on Monday.

“I have no problem with you breastfeeding at the booth, as long as there is another person that is at the booth with you, who can serve food to the customers,” wrote the inspector in an email provided to CBC News.

Holt said she has no other option but to shut down her stall. As a fledgling business owner, she can’t afford to hire someone.

Holt will soon open a store in Dartmouth, but right now farmers’ markets — in Halifax, Dartmouth and Beaver Bank — make up half her business.

In a followup conversation with the inspector, Holt learned breastfeeding even once at the booth disqualifies her from handling food, no matter how clean she stays or what precautions she takes.

“If I set up there in the morning and I nurse him, at say, 10 o’clock in the morning, then for the remainder of the day, someone else has to handle the food,” she said.

Vomit, feces from baby are concerns, says inspector

tanessa-holtIn the email, the inspector wrote: “The food safety concern is contamination of food through possible throw up and/or feces coming from the baby. This would include you burping the baby after nursing or you having to change the infant’s diaper between serving customers.”

Holt has been food safety certified and said this kind of contamination isn’t happening.

There’s a bathroom nearby to change the baby and wash up. Her clothes are covered with a receiving blanket when she nurses, and, like most mothers, she has extra layers to wear in case the blanket doesn’t do the job.

At the market or at home, “I don’t want to walk around with baby puke on me,” she said.

53 sick; Halifax restaurants back in business after suspected norovirus outbreak

CTV News reports a suspected norovirus outbreak doesn’t seem to have stolen business away from The Bicycle Thief. The popular Halifax restaurant re-opened today after a four-day voluntary closure and it was packed at lunchtime.

“It was tremendous, I just had my meal with a glass of wine and it was wonderful, glad to see the restaurant back open,” says customer Peter McDonough.

A recent gastrointestinal virus outbreak closed both The Bicycle Thief and Ristorante a Mano after at least 26 staff and customers reported feeling ill on the weekend.

The virus likely originated on a cruise ship, the Carnival Glory, which docked in Halifax on Aug. 9 with dozens of sick passengers onboard.

Businesses along the waterfront say they weren’t made aware of the norovirus outbreak onboard the boat and Gordon Stewart, executive director of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, says more needs to be done to prevent another outbreak from happening in the future.

Currently, there are 53 reports of people having norovirus-like symptoms in the Halifax area. Those who are sick say they fell ill between Aug. 14 and Aug. 18.


26 sick; Halifax restaurant reopens after norovirus

There are now 26 cases of what appears to be a norovirus-like illness connected to a popular and upscale Halifax restaurant.

Everyone who fell ill either works at The Bicycle Thief or ate there last week. As restaurant owners and inspectors attempt to identify the source, a second restaurant owned by the same group was also closed as a precaution after two workers there became ill.

It appears those infected may have come into contact with the norovirus, but health officials won’t confirm that because they have yet to secure a sample from an infected individual.

Geoff Harris just returned from the London Games after competing in the 800 metre sprint and ate at the restaurant Friday with a friend. By Saturday, they had both fallen ill.

The owners of The Bicycle Thief released this statement to CTV News today:
We would like to thank our loyal customers, the community and the Halifax restaurant industry for their tremendous support of our initiative to contain the Norwalk-like virus that seems to be making its rounds in Halifax at the moment.

As an entirely precautionary step, we’ve decided to close Ristorante a Mano today.