24 sick, 8 hospitalized; E. coli O157 outbreak in New Brunswick

Public health officials are investigating an outbreak of 24 cases of E.coli O157:H7 infection in New Brunswick (that’s in Canada), including 20 in the Miramichi region.

"While lab testing continues, several cases have been confirmed as E. coli O157:H7, a severe strain that can sometimes cause serious illness," said Dr. Eilish Cleary, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, in a statement. "To date, 24 cases of bloody diarrhea suspected to be caused by E. coli have been reported in the province, with 20 in Miramichi, two in Saint John and two in Bathurst.”

Eight people have been hospitalized; the source of the outbreak has not yet been determined.

Seven sick, one dead from salmonella in Canadian nursing home

CBC News reports six patients and one employee at the Kenneth E. Spencer Memorial Home in Moncton have been infected with salmonella in an outbreak that started Sept. 18 at the facility. One resident has died.

“Someone did die. They did have salmonella but at the particular time they had multiple diagnoses,” said Barbara Tremble Cook, the nursing home’s executive director.

“So I guess we can’t say with certainty that would have caused their death, but it could have been a contributing factor.”

She added that the facility’s kitchen has been found clear of any trace of salmonella.

Spencer’s is home to about 200 people and employs about 230 staff.

Restaurant inspection page a boon to dining public

Eric Lewis, a reporter with the Times & Transcript in New Brunswick (that’s in Canada), writes in this opinion piece:

Any time I hear of a restaurant shut down for health violations, I can’t wait to read what they did wrong so I can gauge whether or not I want to ever try go there in the first place or go back if I’ve been there already. Luckily, none of the places I frequent have violated any major rules or been shut down, far as I can recall.

Just prior to Christmas, it was reported that one local restaurant had been fined for continuing to serve customers after a health inspector ordered it closed, violating the Food Premises Regulation of the Public Health Act.

The restaurant in question has since passed another inspection and all previous non-compliances have been corrected, which is great. Accidents happen, mistakes can be made but – especially in an area such as food preparation – they absolutely must be corrected.

I worked for a few years as a teen in a fast-food restaurant. Say what you will about the ‘quality’ of food you get in most fast-food places, but they have to follow the same regulations other restaurants do.

I remember well having to store food a certain number of inches off the floor, having to check temperatures of coolers and warmers and having to wash your hands so frequently that your hands nearly screamed for a bit of moisturizer by the end of the shift.

I’m a big fan of the provincial Department of Health’s restaurant inspection page it launched a few years ago.

Located at http://www1.gnb.ca/0601/fseinspectresults.asp , the site allows anyone to view the results of the most recent inspections completed for every restaurant in the province. Any violations, major or minor, are right there for you to read all about. Restaurants are rated using a colour-coded system that gives you an idea how they’re faring.

Green means the restaurant has a high standard of compliance with no more than five minor violations. There are five levels in total, with a solid red meaning a restaurant’s licence has been revoked for non-compliance.

It’s an interesting tool. Upon a quick search this week, it appears most restaurants in the province are green, while there are a few yellows and the odd restaurant in the red.

Wendy’s VP says E. coli salad safe – provides no evidence

From the growing catalogue of worst things to say after an outbreak of foodborne illness, Dan Moore, the owner of the Wendy’s franchise on Prospect Street in New Brunswick said yesterday,

“The senior vice-president of Wendy’s was here (on Saturday) to inspect the restaurant."

Further, all required precautions have been taken, and customers can safely eat salads, as well as any other menu items.

The Wendy’s outlet was linked to an E. coli O157 outbreak that hit four people who ate Wendy’s salads.

What any consumer would want to know is, where did the lettuce or tomatoes come from, and what kind of on-farm food safety program is being used by the producer, including water testing, testing of soil amendments, and employee sanitation. Don’t want employees wiping their butts and picking fresh lettuce; same with the Wendy’s staff.

If it only takes a senior vp to make food safe, in the absence of any evidence, then lots more food should be safe because there are lots of senior vps.

E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to Wendy’s salads in New Brunswick

The Daily Gleaner reports this morning that four people have been stricken with E. coli O157:H7 after eating salad at a Wendy’s restaurant in Fredericton, New Brunswick (that’s in Canada).

The cases of E. coli O157:H7 are believed to be linked to salads prepared and served at the Prospect Street restaurant. There’s no evidence to suggest a public health concern at other restaurant locations. Public Health Services is continuing its investigation into the matter.