529 now sick with Salmonella in Canada: Crisp & Delicious brand chicken breast nuggets recalled

Over a decade ago, when I went to Kansas State, me and Chapman and Phebus came up with a project to see how people cooked raw, frozen chicken thingies.

The American Meat Institute funded it.

Some of these chicken thingies are frozen raw, which means they have to be cooked in an oven and temperature verified with a tip-sensitive digital thermometer, and some of these thingies are pre-cooked, so can be thawed in a microwave.

Labelling has changed over the years, but it’s still necessary to know what you’re buying.

Some of the frozen raw products may appear to be pre-cooked or browned, but they should be handled and prepared with caution.

Through whole genome sequencing, health types in Canada had, by Nov. 2, 2018, identified 474 laboratory-confirmed cases of Salmonella linked to 14 national outbreaks involving raw chicken, including frozen raw breaded chicken products.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued food recall warnings for ten products linked to some of these outbreak investigations.

Make that 11 products.

Sofina Foods Inc. is now recalling Crisp & Delicious brand Chicken Breast Nuggets from the marketplace due to possible Salmonella contamination.

As of January 25, 2019, there have been 529 laboratory-confirmed cases of Salmonella illness investigated as part of the illness outbreaks across the country: British Columbia (42), Alberta (81), Saskatchewan (18), Manitoba (25), Ontario (187), Quebec (111), New Brunswick (27), Nova Scotia (17), Prince Edward Island (5), Newfoundland and Labrador (12), Northwest Territories (1), Yukon (1), and Nunavut (2). There have been 90 individuals hospitalized as part of these outbreaks. Three individuals have died; however, Salmonella was not the cause of death for two of those individuals, and it was not determined whether Salmonella contributed to the cause of death for the third individual. Infections have occurred in Canadians of all ages and genders.

All active and future Salmonella outbreak investigations linked to raw chicken, including frozen raw breaded chicken products, and related food recall warnings will be listed in the next section of the public health notice to remind Canadians of the ongoing risk associated with these types of food products.

Active investigations

As of January 25, 2019, there is one active national Salmonella outbreak investigation linked to raw chicken including frozen raw breaded chicken products, coordinated by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

January 25, 2019 (NEW) – Salmonella Enteritidis

  • Currently, there are 54 cases of illness in ten provinces linked to this outbreak: British Columbia (4), Alberta (11), Saskatchewan (1), Manitoba (3), Ontario (20), Quebec (4), New Brunswick (2), Nova Scotia (5), Prince Edward Island (3) and Newfoundland and Labrador (1). None of the ill individuals have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Frozen raw breaded chicken products have been identified as a source of this outbreak.

Product recall on January 25, 2019

  • Crisp & Delicious Chicken Breast Nuggets (1.6kg) with a best before date of July 19, 2019. UPC – 0 69299 11703 5. The product was distributed in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, and may have been distributed in other provinces or territories

Self-reported and observed behavior of primary meal preparers and adolescents during preparation of frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products
British Food Journal, Vol 111, Issue 9, p 915-929
Sarah DeDonder, Casey J. Jacob, Brae V. Surgeoner, Benjamin Chapman, Randall Phebus, Douglas A. Powell
Purpose – The purpose of the present study was to observe the preparation practices of both adult and young consumers using frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products, which were previously involved in outbreaks linked to consumer mishandling. The study also sought to observe behaviors of adolescents as home food preparers. Finally, the study aimed to compare food handler behaviors with those prescribed on product labels.
Design/methodology/approach – The study sought, through video observation and self-report surveys, to determine if differences exist between consumers’ intent and actual behavior.
Findings – A survey study of consumer reactions to safe food-handling labels on raw meat and poultry products suggested that instructions for safe handling found on labels had only limited influence on consumer practices. The labels studied by these researchers were found on the packaging of chicken products examined in the current study alongside step-by-step cooking instructions. Observational techniques, as mentioned above, provide a different perception of consumer behaviors.
Originality/value – This paper finds areas that have not been studied in previous observational research and is an excellent addition to existing literature.

Owner sad: TV expose shows employees changing best-before dates at Canadian company

The president of Valoroso Foods, the Kelowna, B.C. company facing allegations of tampering with best before and expiry dates, says his team has spent the weekend doing a full inventory check of their product. Joe Valoroso says they are throwing away anything that is outdated. He adds they are planning to provide a full report to the public and to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Joseph-ValorosoThis comes after Global News conducted an investigation into allegations from former employees. One of them, James Summers-Gill documented some of the alleged tampering with a hidden camera for several weeks before he quit. Some of the footage shows employees discussing how to make the new tags more professional looking.

However, Valoroso denies the accusations. He says the inventory review is taking place at all of the company’s locations and warehouses. There are two retail stores and a warehouse in the central Okanagan as well as a warehouse in the Lower Mainalnd. Valoroso says he is sad and his priority is getting the trust of his customers and community back.

“We are going to assure them that their trust should not be violated and we are going to make sure that we can regain whatever trust we lost and we apologize if we have caused any inconvenience to their patronizing at our place,” says Valoroso.

inventory-in-progressThe CFIA says before Global News’ story aired, it conducted an inspection of the facility “which included reviewing with the owners, requirements pertaining to best before and expiration dates,” said Tammy Jarbeau with the CFIA in an e mail statement to Global News. “The CFIA will continue to work with and monitor the company to ensure compliance with health and safety legislation.

Jarbeau added that changing the best before date on food is not a violation of the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations however it is illegal to sell food that is known to be unsafe.

Valoroso Foods has operated in Kelowna for almost 20 years. They specialize in Italian and European cuisine.



Should deli meats carry warning labels?

Warning labels are a lousy risk management strategy, but the outbreak of listeria in Canada which has killed at least 12 and sickened dozens has had lots of lousy aspects.  So why not?

A story that is running across Canada this morning

With pregnant women and the elderly especially at risk from Listeria, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency needs to step up efforts to alert people to the hazard — perhaps going so far as to put warning labels on deli products — said University of Guelph adjunct professor Doug Powell.

What? Guess that was some stretch at Canadian content. I’m an associate professor of food safety at Kansas State University.  If I’m adjunct at Guelph, I want access to all the money that was provided to deliver news and is instead being used as some sort of room renovation fund by a department chair I never met.

The opinion piece that ran in the Toronto Star this morning was more accurate.

Michael McCain delivered a powerful and compelling apology over the weekend as authorities confirmed Maple Leaf deli meats were the likely source of food-borne illness that has killed at least six and sickened dozens.

Outbreaks of food and water-borne illness are far too common. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30 per cent of people in so-called developed countries will suffer each and every year. That’s a lot of sick people.

But the current listeria outbreak turns statistics into stories, and challenges a company like Maple Leaf, with world-class aspirations, to do better.

The first case of listeriosis apparently surfaced in late June. Why it took the various health authorities so long to make a link remains to be uncovered.

For now, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Health Canada and others are providing little in the way of details regarding who knew what when.

The authorities are, however, proving unjustifiably adept at praising themselves for the speed with which they responded to the outbreak.

Two months after the first case is not an early-warning system. The political barbs that have been tossed around – which provide no insight on managing listeria – are simply embarrassing given the loss of life and illness.

McCain and Maple Leaf are better than this, and can be better:

• Issue pictures of the recalled products:

Telling people to look for products that contain the stamp "Establishment (EST) 97B" puts too much of a burden on people who just wanted to go shopping, not do homework. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration realized this, and last year started including pictures on their recall notices for products deemed to be high health risks.

Pictures aren’t superficial, they are good communication. It’s difficult for even PhD-types to wade through nine pages of recalled products, and pictures can make the connection for those who don’t always know what brands they buy.

• Warn pregnant women and others at risk from listeria in deli meats:

My wife is six months pregnant and she hasn’t had deli meats or smoked salmon or other refrigerated, ready-to-eat foods for six months.

That’s because, as Michael McCain says, the bacterium listeria is fairly much everywhere, difficult to control, and grows in the refrigerator. It also causes stillbirths in pregnant women, who are about 20 times more likely to contract the bug than other adults.

The banter in Canada about government or industry taking the lead on food inspection, whether food should be produced in large or small places, is misguided at best and more likely, political opportunism.

Long before the current outbreak, the advice from the Canadian government about listeria was mushy:

"Although the risk of listeriosis associated with foods from deli counters, such as sliced packaged meat and poultry products, is relatively low, pregnant women and immunosuppressed persons may choose to avoid these foods."

The advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is clear: Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, or deli meats, unless they are reheated.

It has been documented that many pregnant women are not aware of the risks associated with consuming refrigerated, ready-to-eat foods like cold cuts.

Don’t expect the bureaucrats in the Canadian government to do anything. If Michael McCain and Maple Leaf are truly concerned with public health, they could at a minimum put warning labels on their products. Maybe near the "(EST) 97B."

• Make your listeria data public:

Maple Leaf Foods spokesperson Linda Smith told CTV Newsnet Friday, officials at the plant are "… constantly looking for it (listeria), constantly swabbing and looking for it."

Smith said the equipment at the plant is sanitized every day and officials take about 3,000 swabs per year. The plant also has a microbiologist on site.

"This plant has an excellent food safety record, excellent inspection record, excellent external auditors. We’ll never know exactly how it got here."

But you do have 3,000 samples per year. If Maple Leaf really wants to restore public confidence, release the listeria data. How many positives does the Toronto plant see in a year? Were there positives leading up to the initial Aug. 17 recall? If there were no positives, why not? What is the protocol when a positive is discovered?

Consumers can handle more, not less information about the food they eat.

Maple Leaf Foods has the unfortunate opportunity to set new standards for consumer confidence.

Douglas Powell of Brantford is an associate professor of food safety at Kansas State University.