Canadian, eh: Bottle feeding E. coli to calves to prevent food poisoning?

Scientists in Nova Scotia are trying to come up with a way to prevent cattle from hosting the toxic strain of E. coli that can make humans sick if they eat meat contaminated with the bacteria. 

martin-kalmokoffFood safety research scientist Martin Kalmokoff, who works at the Atlantic Food and Agriculture Research Centre in Kentville, said the research is trying to figure out why certain types of E. coli multiply in the guts of cows. 

The idea is eventually farmers will be able to feed to young calves a harmless type of E. coli in liquid form, either through a bottle or syringe, that will prevent the more toxic strains from flourishing. 

The hope is the mixture would out-compete the toxic E. coli O157 for space in the gut. 

“If you can prevent the cattle from carrying the organism, it would have obvious impacts in terms of food safety down the production line,” said Kalmokoff, who works for Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada. 

“Essentially you’d like to eliminate the pathogen from cattle completely, so when they go to slaughter you don’t have the opportunity of contaminating meat and meat products with this particular product.” 

Nothing: What happens if restaurant ordered to close doesn’t?

The Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture says it could charge a restaurant in northern Cape Breton because it refuses to comply with an order to close.

The department said Down North Cook House near Dingwall is operating without a permit.

Barry MacGregor, acting director of food safety, said the water at the cookhouse does johnny.carson.carnac0808not meet food safety standards.

“It’s an order. A closure order was delivered to the facility on Sept. 6 by our food safety specialist and attempted to place it on the door of the facility and that was removed,” he said.

“We are hoping we are doing our due diligence by going through the public service announcement process, but as well we’re compiling our information and we are seeking some legal advice to go through the courts as well.”

A provincial health department release advised patrons not to eat or drink at the restaurant.

“Customers of this establishment may be at risk of communicable diseases causing gastro-intestinal symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and fever,” read the statement.

The owner of the restaurant denies the allegations.

Maureena Cook said she’s installed a UV water treatment system.

MacGregor said Cook hasn’t told his department yet.

Passengers ill with Norovirus when ship docked in Halifax: Carnival Cruises

The Nova Scotia restaurant now linked to 38 cases of norovirus was absolutely right to shut down at the first signs of illness – even if the blame may ultimately lie with a cruise ship.

Global News reports that on August 11, officials with the U.S. Centre for Disease Control (CDC) boarded the Carnival Glory cruise ship after it docked at the Port of New York.

The Carnival Cruise liner reportedly had 215 people on board who had fallen ill during its five-day voyage from the Big Apple to Halifax, with stops in Boston and Saint John along the way.

All told 4.5 per cent of the combined 4796 people aboard had reported being ill.

The Carnival Cruise Glory is being linked to 38 reported illnesses in Halifax, stemming from a popular waterfront restaurant.

The Bicycle Thief, just metres away from the Halifax Seaport, shut its doors Saturday after staff and customers fell ill with Norovirus-like symptoms.

Carnival Cruises states it took the correct measures to stop the spread of what it says was a Norovirus outbreak.

In a statement, the company says ill passengers were required to stay on board while berthed in Halifax Aug. 9 – nine days before The Bicycle Thief temporarily shut down. The restaurant reopened Wednesday morning.

No one has gotten sick from Nova Scotia meat?


Members of the Nova Scotia Agriculture Department (that’s a province in Canada) told the public accounts committee no one in Nova Scotia has become ill because of problems in the province’s meat inspection program.

The Herald News reports the health types were there to give an update on their response to a report from the auditor general in November that said the department wasn’t doing a good job keeping watch over the province’s slaughterhouses and meat processing plants.

In the report, Jacques Lapointe said, among other things, there was a lack of monthly inspections and inconsistent followups when deficiencies were found, and there didn’t seem to be any enforcement action taken when deficiencies weren’t corrected.

Mike Horwich, the director of food protection with the department, told the committee, "We’ve accepted all the recommendations (of the auditor general) and we’re working toward each and every one of them. Some are further along than others, but we hope to implement them by at least the end of next year."

He described the system that prevents bacteria from getting through the slaughter process and into the consumer food supply as a series of fences along a track, and said that even if something happened that allowed the bacteria to get past one barrier, it would be stopped by another.

He said the department is working toward having regular monthly inspections. "We strive to achieve those, but again, those monthly inspections are just one barrier, they’re not the be-all and end-all. We are confident that the system that we have now and the process that we have now, with inspectors on site, ends up being part of a system that produces a really good product."


9 children sick; E. coli outbreak contained at Nova Scotia daycare

CBC News reports Crystal Daycare in Dartmouth, N.S., believes it has stopped an outbreak of E. coli, but doesn’t bother to report what kind of E. coli sickened seven children and two of their siblings since the middle of August.

Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, the medical health officer for the capital region, said there hasn’t been a new case since last week.

"It’s the children that are the ongoing source and catching up with them and their disease can be a challenge. An outbreak like this can go on for several weeks for that reason. It’s been exhausting for the parents, it’s been exhausting for the daycare staff."

More than 90 children use the facility and public health officials say the E. coli was brought in by one of them.

Sheep suspect in Colorado cantaloupe outbreak

Follow the poop to find the listeria.

I keep getting asked about confined animal feeding operations or CAFOs as the cause of the listeria-in-cantaloupe outbreak that has killed at least 18 and sickened 100.

I say, all animals poop.

The deer that caused E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks in Odwalla juice in 1996 that killed a 16-month-old child, or local Oregon strawberries in 2011 that killed one and sickened 14, had nothing to do with CAFOs.

Neither did the sheep in 1981, which were used to crapping on a cabbage field in Nova Scotia (that’s in Canada) and led to a listeria outbreak linked to coleslaw that sickened seven adults and led to 34 perinatal infections, according to a report on the outbreak published in 1983 in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

Lisa Schnirring of CIDRAP cites Dr. Lawrence (Larry) Goodridge, a food microbiologist in the department of animal sciences at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, as saying all potential sources of contamination are being considered, including irrigation water, soil, "biosolids," and contamination from animal incursions.

Goodridge said in the region of Colorado where cantaloupes are grown—though not necessarily at the farm implicated in the outbreak—sheep are often grazed on cantaloupe fields following harvest.

"If that practice was followed at Jensen Farms, then there is the possibility of sheep manure contaminating the cantaloupe with L monocytogenes," he said. A similar scenario occurred in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1981 when a listeria outbreak caused by tainted cabbage was traced to the use of sheep manure as fertilizer, Goodridge added.

Goodridge said another puzzling aspect of the cantaloupe Listeria outbreak is that four different pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) profiles have been identified, falling into two distinct serotypes, which could suggest multiple contamination events or a contamination event from multiple sources, such as different animals.

Restaurant inspection disclosure: Build it and they will come

Baseball is sooooooooo boring.

But I’ll use any metaphor and pop culture reference to get people to pay attention to food safety stuf.

Even if it involves baseball.

The restaurant inspection disclosure web site in Nova Scotia – that’s in Canada – has been overwhelmed with hits since going on-line.

That’s normal. From Sydney to Scranton, the provision of restaurant inspection results is always a big hit with the public.

What’s not normal is the response from Luc Erjavec, of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, who said it’s no biggie and that the $325,000 the province spent to create the online database could have been used to stimulate the restaurant sector.

"Maybe we could spend a half million dollars stimulating our industry. Stimulating our industry would be a better way to do it."

OOOOOhhhhhhhh. Such sexy talk.

But, as the Herald Chronicle reports this morning, millions of people went to the Agriculture Department’s website in the days following its launch in October, Leo Muise, executive director of regulation and compliance for food safety, said Wednesday.

"The first week was what we consider to be an almost unbelievable response. It seems to be going over well."

On the second day alone, about 1.5 million people checked out the food-safety inspections of restaurants and other businesses. The numbers gradually dropped over the next few months and now about 1,000 people a week use the site to look up the records for several eateries at a time.

The Chronicle Herald published a series of stories in 2006 and 2007 that exposed deficiencies in Nova Scotia’s system of inspecting restaurants. The inspection reports obtained by this newspaper noted infractions such as rodents, unsafe meat and cross-contamination of food.

At the time, the department wasn’t in favour of creating public online access to a database of inspections and cited concerns that such a practice might be bad for business at some restaurants.

Now, substitute “hockey” for “baseball” in the video clip below.

Restaurant inspection results finally on-line in Nova Scotia (it’s in Canada)

Jessica Simpson can now find out the results of the latest inspection should she go dining in Nova Scotia – but only via the Internet (and not in the window like these pics of L.A.).

A database of food establishment inspection reports was launched Oct. 28
, by Agriculture Minster Brooke Taylor.

Reports will be posted within two or three days of inspections. They will show deficiencies, the action taken, warnings issued and closure notices for facilities.

Luc Erjavec of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association welcomed the new online system as something that will benefit restaurateurs and their customers.

"It’s a system that’s going to be open and transparent. With all that’s been going on in the world with food safety, I think the public is sensitive to food safety issues and this is one more thing that could help ease any concerns."

Costa Elles, president of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, said restaurateurs have nothing to fear and the system will probably improve food safety.

"It sets a standard and I think we should be accountable for what we do and that’s just giving us some accountability.”

The inspection reports are available on the Department of Agriculture’s website at

Nova Scotia, Canada, to release restaurant inspection reports

Almost two years after the Halifax Chronicle-Herald started pushing for restaurant inspection disclosure, Nova Scotian Agriculture Minister Brooke Taylor said this week he expects his department will complete a project during the summer to make restaurant inspections results available.

Taylor hasn’t released details on what will be included in the online information, but says it will be similar to what’s already done in other provinces.

Taylor says the cost to establish the database is about $500,000.

He says the plan is to post a restaurant’s records for up to three years.

In Sept. 2006, I told the Chronicle-Herald,

”Everyone has been rushing for the last 10 years to figure out how they’re going to disclose this information because the overall goal is the public’s right to know. But Nova Scotia’s not even at that point now.”