We take food safety seriously and other predictable messages: Noro in PEI edition

The Prince Edward Island (that’s in Canada) still doesn’t think hotel management is at fault for over 160 norovirus illnesses even though they reportedly had a bunch of food handlers sick while preparing food.

I disagree. People showing up to work ill and handling food is a managerial fail.

According to the Guardian, the hotel is really sorry too.unnamed

Staff ill with the Norwalk virus while serving or preparing food were the most likely cause of the recent gastro-intestinal illness striking many guests of a Charlottetown hotel, says the province’s chief public health officer.

However, Dr. Heather Morrison doesn’t think the Delta Prince Edward’s food safety or its handling and cleaning practices are to blame, and doesn’t know of anything the hotel could have done to avoid the outbreak.

The outbreak was associated with three functions at the hotel on Dec. 5.

Illness was reported in 134 guests and 35 hotel staff.

James Tingley, the general manager of Delta Hotels and Resorts, declined to do an interview with The Guardian, but issued a statement noting the hotel immediately contacted the health department following reports of people feeling sick after attending an event at the hotel.

The statement notes hotel hygiene and cleanliness are taken very seriously.

Following the health department’s guidance, the hotel implemented a “comprehensive process to sanitize the hotel’’.

The hotel also posted signs in the lobby and at the entrance to the restaurant to inform guests about the outbreak.

The statement also extends “heartfelt apologies’’ to those that may have gotten sick after visiting the Delta Prince Edward.

Working while ill is a bad idea

When I was a kid, my dad made me watch the Yankees. So I became a Mets fan

My parents made me listen to the Beatles, and told me they were good.images

I rebelled. I got into Run DMC and the Beastie Boys instead.

Maybe it’s just me, but telling someone what to do doesn’t usually work out.

I don’t know the answer to food handlers showing up to work with foodborne illness symptoms. It seems to happen even with paid sick leave (see Chipotle’s noro outbreak in Boston). An organization has to also make it okay for employees to use the sick leave.

Providing it but ostracizing those who use it is sorta useless.

CBC reports that ill food handlers are involved in yet another norovirus outbreak

The most likely cause of the recent outbreak of illness at the Delta Hotel is staff who were ill with the Norwalk virus while serving or doing food preparation, says P.E.I.’s chief public health officer.

After three Christmas parties at the Delta in Charlottetown in early December, 134 guests reported being ill.

Dr. Heather Morrison said 35 Delta staff also reported being ill, and four stool samples from staff and guests have come back positive for Norwalk, also known as norovirus.

Provincial senior environmental health officer Ryan Neale said there is no way, in the early incubation stages of the virus, to reduce the risk of transmission of norovirus to zero, although handwashing and good use of gloves can help.

Morrison said the hotel has enhanced its cleaning and adjusted its food handling practices, including the types of food being prepared for buffets, but she doesn’t know of anything the hotel could have done to avoid the outbreak.

Not having ill staff show up and handle food might have helped.

More Stompin’ Tom: Sewing needles now found in 10 P.E.I. potatoes

The first bar I got into underage with false ID was the Horseshoe Tavern to see Toronto-based Goddo, who I would later book at my high school when I was student council president (damn glad to meet you). Due to many requests, here’s Stompin’ Tom at the Horseshoe.

But it’s no trivial manner for growers when the RCMP in Prince Edward Island say their investigation into food tampering now includes 10 potatoes containing sewing needles.

The Mounties say the needles were found in three more potatoes originating from Linkletter Farms in Summerside with the help of metal detection equipment.

The potatoes were returned as part of a voluntary recall and have been sent to a forensic laboratory for more testing.


PEI potato growers offer reward in tampering case

Coral Beach of The Packer writes the Prince Edward Island (that’s in Canada) potato industry is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for recent tampering incidents involving sewing needles being embedded in fresh potatoes.

potato.needleThe needles have been found by consumers, according to officials with the PEI Potato Board, and have involved fresh potatoes from Linkletter Farms, owned by Gary Linkletter, chairman of the industry board.

Linkletter did not attend the board’s Nov. 10 press conference on the reward, citing conflict of interest concerns because his company has been the victim of the tampering incidents. In an interview with The (Montreal) Guardian, Linkletter said the tampering incident were limited to his farm and were not an industrywide occurrence.

“For the health of Linkletter Farms and the entire industry, we know we all wish to see this incident resolved as quickly as possible,” said PEI board general manager Greg Donald in a news release issued after the press conference.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have been investigating the tampering for several weeks. During the first week of November members of the RCMP told The Guardian the investigation was delayed because growers had to stop X-raying harvested potatoes in order to get in the remaining crop.

Canadian potatoes recalled after possible tampering

Potatoes grown and packaged on a farm in Prince Edward Island are being recalled and RCMP are investigating after a metal object was found inserted inside a potato.

On Oct. 6, P.E.I. RCMP were informed a potato in Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labrador had been found with a metal object inside.

The table potato is believed to have originated from Linkletter Farms, located in Summerside P.E.I.

RCMP communications officer Sgt. Leanne Butler says police are treating this as a mischief investigation involving food tampering.

Gary Linkletter, general manager of Linkletter Farms, requested the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to issue a voluntary recall of the potatoes to ensure the public is not at risk.

The RCMP major crime unit, forensic identification unit and members of the East Prince RCMP Detachment are all involved in the investigation.

CFIA shuts down new PEI lobster plant

The first new lobster processing plant in 10 years in Prince Edward Island (that’s in Canada) has not had its registration renewed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

lobsterA CIFA spokesperson said Red Cove seafood processing was allowed to resume operations following an earlier suspension on April 14 under ongoing inspection by CFIA. On May 8, CFIA decided not to renew Red Cove’s registration.

“The CFIA has determined that adequate controls for safety were not reliably implemented in the facility on a regular basis, which is in violation of the fish inspection regulations,” the spokesperson said. “Specifically, (Red Cove Seafood Processing) was unable to consistently maintain minimum regulatory standards for construction, equipment sanitation and process controls.”

Chronic non-compliance, so PEI changes food safety laws

P.E.I.’s health minister says the province’s new Public Health Act aims to cure what he calls “chronic non-compliance” among those who prepare and serve food to the public.

Canadian Press reports Doug Currie says the need for an updated act, which recently passed second reading in the provincial legislature, was heightened by two high-profile cases of food-borne illnesses.

But he says planning started in 2008, when the department began looking at public health legislation in other Canadian provinces.

“There’s been chronic non-compliance under the old act. We had legislation, but there wasn’t a thrust to be able to use the act to allow owners and operators to comply with the … legislation.”

In May, health officials determined more than 200 cases of food-borne illness resulted from a fundraising supper at a local church.

The likely cause was a toxin found in cooked beef that was not stored at the proper temperature.

Following that case, food service at the Stanhope Beach Resort was halted after more than 100 people contracted norovirus from contaminated food or water.

Currie said those were prime examples of what can happen when food isn’t handled properly, something the new act will hope to address.

That’s a lot of sick people for a population of 140,000.

230 sick; lawsuit alleges negligence in PEI resort norovirus outbreak

The Guardian reports that troubles continue for the Stanhope Beach Resort and Conference Centre with the launch of a $5 million class action lawsuit over recent norovirus outbreaks.

Deborah Basco and Christine MacDonald are the plaintiffs on a statement of claim filed Sept. 20 that seeks an order certifying it a class action.

It also seeks to have the women appointed as representatives for everyone involved in the claim.

The statement of claim alleged the resort acted with a “wanton, callous and reckless regard” for the safety of the class members who are seeking $5 million for negligence and breach of contract. It also seeks damages for breaches of the Business Practices Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act and Public Health Act.

Wagners, the law firm representing the plaintiffs recently ran advertisements for a potential norovirus class action lawsuit after the public health office shut down food service at the resort.

More than 230 people reported getting sick within the span of several weeks after several weddings at the resort.

Stool samples the public health office collected turned up positive for the norovirus.

The claim alleges the resort learned of the norovirus outbreak in August and didn’t do anything to warn the plaintiffs or their family members.

Among the allegations of negligence, the claim said the resort had a duty to act in a way that properly supervised the resort’s operation so guests, staff and visitors could expect it to be free of norovirus.

Once a norovirus outbreak was suspected, the resort had a duty of care to the plaintiff and class members to address the potential source and take other health and safety measures, the claim said.

The statement of claim said the resort also had a duty to tell visitors of any potential risks to their health.

In detailing the allegations, the claim laid out several other instances of alleged negligence, including inadequate inspections and testing to determine if norovirus was present at the resort.

It also alleged the resort didn’t take appropriate isolation protocols, including not closing down or stopping food service soon enough.

60 sick; norovirus suspected at PEI resort

An outbreak of a gastrointestinal illness at the Stanhope Beach Resort and Conference Centre last weekend is being investigated by the Department of Health, according to P.E.I.’s chief health officer.

Dr. Heather Morrison told CBC News about 60 people had symptoms of nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps or diarrhea after attending events at the resort. Morrison says it could possibly be a norovirus-like illness.

“No cause has been identified to date. Food histories have not identified a likely food source of the illness. And no bacterial cause of the illness has been identified to date,” she said.

The health department says there were three different weddings at the resort on the weekend.

Audrey Firth, the general manager of the resort, says the facility has always maintained a high degree of cleanliness in all parts of the property and has re-doubled its efforts to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

209 sick from church dinner; C. perfringens in roast beef and gravy; improper holding temps to blame

There’s been a rash of Clostridium perfringens foodborne outbreaks in the past few months. A catered function in Las Vegas, catered tacos at a high school basketball game in South Dakota, even health officials were sickened by a catered meal in Colorado.

A recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that foodborne illness outbreaks resulting from Clostridium perfringens were often large and caused substantial morbidity from 1998 to 2008.

According to the researchers, C perfringens is estimated to be the third most common cause of foodborne illness in the United States, causing 1 million illnesses each year.

So it’s not surprising that C. perfringens was found in the roast beef and gravy that was served at a church dinner in Prince Edward Island two weeks ago, sickening at least 209.

The Chief Public Health Office continues to investigate the outbreak of food-borne illness related to the roast beef dinner prepared by volunteers of the Princetown United Church on Saturday, April 28.

Those preparing meals for church suppers or sale of food at any public event are reminded of the importance of reviewing and adhering to proper food preparation, handling and temperature control requirements.

C. perfringens outbreaks are often the result of improperly cooled food or food held at room temperature for extended periods. That was certainly on my mind as I took the remnants of Sunday’s pork leg roast and turned it into pulled pork with beans and bread, all made from scratch, for dinner Tuesday night. I ensured the temperature didn’t drop below 140F by monitoring hourly with a tip-sensitive digital thermometer, and refrigerated leftovers as soon as dinner was dine.

I also avoid potlucks.