Listeria and Health Canada; the money wasted on terrible communications

Listeria in Maple Leaf cold-cuts killed 23 primarily-elderly Canadians in the fall of 2008.

Prior to the 2008 outbreak, the advice from Health Canada 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 was clear: Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, or deli meats, unless they are reheated.

Of course, most mortals don’t go to federal agencies for advice – they ask their doctors or nurses or medical professionals. And who knows what kind of nonsense will spew out.

Regardless, Health Canada took to the Intertubes today to remind Canadians of the importance of food safety for older adults. Old people, listen up:

“As you age, it becomes harder for your immune system to fight off harmful bacteria. This means that older adults can come down with a serious illness if they eat contaminated food. For this reason, it is very important to choose, handle and cook food properly before eating. It is very important for older adults or their caregivers to follow food safety steps to help reduce the risk of foodborne illness.”

Betty White – was that wiener steaming hot?

Health Canada now says, and has for a couple of years, that you old folks – and I’m rapidly becoming one of them, heading out for the afternoon early bird dinner specials here in Florida — make sure to cook hot dogs and deli meats until they are steaming hot before eating them.”

That’s nice. But Health Canada has still said nothing – at least not publicly – about the morons at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Kids, who said expectant mommies can eat all the cold-cuts they want as long as they are from reputable sources.

Just because advice is issued, doesn’t mean that anyone pays attention. Go on, Health Canada, get dirty, engage people, even if you upset some. Or play nice, be ignored, and let more people get sick. Is that category on your annual review?

Label old beef(s)

I have a friend who was a dairy farmer for decades and he refused to eat at McDonald’s.

He likes hamburgers and all, he just couldn’t stand the thought of his spent Holsteins being served as a Big Mac.

Some types in the Australian beef industry feel the same way.

The Courier Mail in Brisbane reports that backers of truth-in-labeling legislation aimed at ensuring old cow meat is clearly labeled as such are concerned industry representatives will succeed in destroying the intent of the legislation.

They are worried that a register being drawn up in response to the legislation will only make buying beef in the supermarket even more confusing for consumers.

Once passed, the terminology would apply to meat sold in supermarkets and butchers around the country.

Consultant to the truth-in-labelling legislation, Norman Hunt, said vested industry interests who did not want consumers to realize they were buying beef from old cows were to blame.

The Aus-Meat domestic retail beef register, drawn up earlier this month, is proposing to change the much-maligned "budget" label, used to describe beef from cattle 10 years old, to "economy".

Under existing law in Queensland, abattoirs must label old cow meat "manufacturing" grade but retailers are then able to market it as prime cut under the "budget" grading.

Government adviser, Red Meat Advisory Council secretary Justin Toohey said it was impossible to provide a guide to eating quality of meat to consumers based on a whole of animal approach, adding,

"The trouble is every muscle has to be graded individually for this sort of thing to be a success. An eye-fillet from an eight-tooth cow could be beautiful eating, for example."