Quebec grocery stores change expiry dates to make food seem fresh

According to documents obtained through an access to information request, 12 supermarkets have been given a total of 14 citations over the past two years for changing expiry date labels on food.

The changed dates vary from as little as one day to as much as two months, and ranged from raw chicken to bacon, mussels and salmon.

“There are foods you don’t mess with,” nutritionist Stephanie Cote said. “Meat, poultry and fish especially.”

Jean-Christophe Cognault, who manages another Montreal-area grocery store, said “the practice is much more common than these 12 supermarkets.

“It’s just that most of them are never caught.”

Cognault used to work for a large supermarket. He shared a few tricks that grocers use to modify best-before and expiry dates.

“For steak, you cut off the meat that’s gone brown on the sides and repackage it,” he said.

Don’t eat moose organs: Quebec health agency

A health agency in Northern Quebec is providing some, uh, Northern Quebec advice:  don’t eat moose organs because of cadmium found in samples collected last fall.

Moose kidneys and livers are considered a delicacy among the Cree First Nations of Eeyou Istchee.

MooseLast year officials from the Abitibi-Témiscamingue health agency and Quebec’s wildlife department collected samples from the kidneys of 24 moose that were hunted in the region.

In a press release, the health agency says there were not enough samples to draw definitive conclusions. But the release says the results are still “worrying.”

Cadmium is used in plastics, batteries and solar panels.

The Abitibi-Témiscamingue health agency wants to continue its research and is asking hunters to help out by keeping a kidney from each moose killed this season and dropping it off when registering the kill at the office in Rouyn-Noranda, Que..

Nurse in critical condition; E. coli poisoning leaves 7 sick after eating at Marché 27 in Quebec

Now it’s not so much a secret.

But the owner of Montreal restaurant Marche 27 is, according to CBC News, blaming the supplier for delivering contaminated meat after seven people including a nurse who is in critical condition, were sickened with E. coli after consuming beef tartare.

Owner Jason Masso said he’s been serving tartare at Marché 27 for six years and has steak.tartare.jan.14never had a problem.

Not one he knows of.

Val D’Or resident Isabelle St-Jean told CBC Daybreak host Mike Finnerty that she had been sick for several days and went for the hospital for tests, and that’s when she found out she had E. coli poisoning.  

“They saw that I had E. coli … I was sick to my stomach for one week,” she said.

Masso said his restaurant has passed all inspections and he wants to reassure the public that he has addressed the problem and his restaurant is safe. 

“I want to make sure this never happens again,” Masso told CTV News.

“There’s a lady that was hospitalized … like critically ill — that to me is extremely important.”

That’s the risks with raw meat.

16 funerals and a lot of vomit, same caterer, Quebec, 2011

In January 2011, multiple acute gastroenteritis outbreaks that spanned many days and were related to attendance at funerals were reported to public health units in Quebec. An epidemiological investigation was initiated to identify the source of the contamination and to explain the extent 96204568_Rowan_214090gof the contamination over time. Thirty-one cohorts of individuals attended different funerals held between 14 and 19 January. All attendees were served a cold buffet made by the same caterer. Of these 31 cohorts, 16 (with a total of about 800 people) contained individuals who reported being ill after the funeral. Symptoms were mainly diarrhea (89 to 94% of individuals), vomiting (63 to 90%,) and fever (26 to 39%), with a median incubation period of 29 to 33 h and a median duration of symptoms of 24 to 33 h, suggesting norovirus-like infection. Among the 16 cohorts, 3 were selected for cohort studies. Among those three cohorts, the mean illness rate was 68%. Associations were found between those who fell ill and those who had consumed pasta salad (relative risk [RR] = 2.4; P = 0.0022) and ham sandwiches (RR = 1.8; P = 0.0096). No food handlers reported being sick. No stool samples were provided by individuals who became ill. Environmental and food samples were all negative for causative agents. Although the causative agent was not clearly identified, this investigation raised many concerns about the importance of preventing foodborne four.weddings.funeraltransmission of viral gastroenteritis and generated some recommendations for management of similar outbreaks.

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 9, January 2013, pp. 1488-1657, pp. 1582-1589(8)

Gaulin, Colette; Nguon, Soulyvane; Leblanc, Marie-Andree; Ramsay, Danielle; Roy, Sophie

The great hazelnut/Salmonella caper part deux

A lot of a risk manager’s job is just paying attention to what’s going on. Food safety types at a company that buys food and resells it (a grocery store, food service operator, wholesaler) or uses food ingredients, should be constantly scanning the news and literature for what risks suppliers are encountering. They might look for stuff like whether the vendor’s industry is dealing with increased focus from regulators or if similar inputs are being recalled or linked to illnesses.hazelnut

Paying attention is the first step, but making decisions to switch suppliers or increase standards is how food gets safer. For this to work though, information needs to be publicly shared. When a regulator finds a problem with a supplier but doesn’t name the source, hiding behind privacy rules, they are doing a disservice to public health. Pretty hard for a buyer to proactively switch away from a supplier who is having Salmonella issues if they don’t know who has problems and who doesn’t.

And so expands the recall as CFIA’s investigation reveals that an unnamed nut seller’s bulk nuts have been spread across Quebec.

The public warning issued on May 16, 2013 has been updated to include additional product and distribution information.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is warning the public not to consume certain in shell hazelnuts or mixed nuts in shell described below because the products may be contaminated with Salmonella.

The following products (list can be found here -ben) were sold in packages of various weights or in bulk at the locations indicated below.  Consumers who are unsure if they have affected product are advised to check with their retailer.

These recalls are part of an on-going food safety investigation associated with a recall of bulk hazelnuts from USA. The CFIA is working with the recalling firms and distributors to identify all affected products.

The importer, distributers, and retailers are voluntarily recalling the affected products from the marketplace.  The CFIA is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall.

If I was a nut buyer, I’d want to know who the Salmonella-linked importers and distributors are.

Canadian government funds food truck to feed poutine to Mexicans, or how I met Amy

She asked if I wanted to go out for a beer.

canada-food-truckI said no.

She gave me her number.

I went home.

Later I called.

We had a beer.

We got married (after a while).
poutineAnd we owe it all to the Canadian government.

That was in Oct. 2005. Chapman and I were touring around and landed at Kansas State University where one of my PhD students was professoring.

Our first event was a wine and cheese where K-Staters could come out and poke real-live Canadians with a stick. Afterwards, this woman started chatting me up (see above).

Back then, the feds provided something approaching $20 million to U.S. institutions to edumucate them about Canada; maybe influence a future politician; who knows.

Amy the French professor included Quebecois literature in one of her courses so was part of this Canadian studies group, even though I tried to explain that Quebec wasn’t part of Canada.

So she went to that meeting to check out the Canadians.

Not sure if that Canadian studies money is still around, but the Canadian government is taking another bold initiative with neighbors even further amy.doug.2005south: the Canadian government, courtesy of taxpayers, is sending a food truck to Mexico to serve poutine.

As reported by Tina Nguyen in The Braiser via Toronto’s National Post, the truck will be serving a Mexican-ized version of poutine, using Oaxaca
cheese instead of curds. Also on the menu are Alberta beef tourtière (beef pie), and maple-glazed Albacore tuna.

If José Andrés once described culinary diplomacy as “sending hidden messages through food,” the Canadian government’s message is not so much “hidden” as it is “sad and desperate”: “What do you not like about me? I can change! Really! Is it the cheese? Do you not like the curds? I can find something else! I can dress sexier! I’ll even have a threesome with the Albacore tuna! I’ll do anything for you! PLEASE LOVE ME.”

Amy loves me.

Thieves make off with 400 tonnes of corn from Quebec farm

While biking with Sarah yesterday on our ole’ timey cruisers, someone just had to accelerate and get past us because they were in a rush on the island.

They were from Quebec.

That’s the place where people steal 16,000 barrels of maple syrup.

And now, apparently, 400 tonnes of corn.

The farmer who owns the crop estimates the value of the theft at $140,000.

The unidentified farmer says the corn had been stored in silos at the farm located about 130 kilometres northeast of Montreal.

Who steals $30M worth of maple syrup?

With the separatists back in power in the Canadian province of Quebec (yawn) someone decided to make a pre-emptive strike on the economy and steal $30 million worth of maple syrup.

Quebec is the world’s largest producer of maple syrup.

And Quebec has a strategic reserve of maple syrup.

According to The Atlantic, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers has been managing warehouses full of surplus sweetener since 2000. The crooks seem to have made off with more than a quarter of the province’s backup supply.

Michael Farrell, an extension associate at Cornell University’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and an expert in all things maple said, “We think of it as a little cottage industry here in the states. But up there [syrup is] a big industry that’s responsible for a lot of people’s livelihoods.” 

Today, Quebec taps 75 percent of the world’s supply, and its producers have been attempting to grow their market abroad. Shipments to Japan, for instance, rose 252 percent between 2000 and 2005.

The reserve makes sure there’s always enough syrup for the market. As Farrell explained, each producer sells its harvest in bulk to the federation — a government-sanctioned cooperative — which turns around and deals it to bulk buyers. When production is high, the federation siphons a portion off to store in steel drums for future use.

E. coli O157:H7 in raw milk cheese, Quebec, 2008, 16 sickened

Although nominally about epidemiological basics and evaluative techniques during an outbreak of foodborne illness, a new paper also provides some details – and investigative uncertainty — during a 2008 outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 linked to raw milk cheese in Quebec (that’s in Canada).

The authors write in the Journal of Food Protection that on 4 December 2008, the Bureau de surveillance et de vigie at the Ministe`re de la Sante´ et des Services sociaux in the Province of Quebec, Canada, was notified by the Laboratoire de sante´ publique du Que´bec (LSPQ) of a cluster of three E. coli O157:H7 cases with the same pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) profile, 849.

This PFGE profile was designated EC849 according to the Quebec nomenclature and ECXAI.2091/ECBNI.0570 according to the PulseNet Canada database.

During the same period, public health authorities from Ontario notified the Bureau de surveillance et de vigie in Quebec about an Ontario case who acquired an E. coli O157:H7 infection with the same PFGE profile, and who had traveled to Quebec 2 to 10 days before his onset of symptoms. This specific PFGE profile was not found in other Canadian provinces or in the United States.

On 15 January 2009, a cumulative total of 16 EC849 cases had been reported to Quebec and Ontario public health authorities. Fourteen cases lived in Quebec. Two lived in Ontario, but visited the Province of Quebec within 10 days preceding the onset of their symptoms. Of the 16 cases, 62.5% were female and 87.5% were older than 20 years (median, 38.5 years; range, 7 to 76 years). All the cases had diarrhea and blood in their stools. Fifty percent were hospitalized; one of them had thrombocytopenic thrombotic purpura and was hospitalized
for 32 days. If we exclude Ontario cases, no Quebec cases had traveled outside the province in the 10 days preceding their symptoms. The first case (an Ontario case) had onset of symptoms on 26 October, 7 or 8 days after having visited the cheese plant that produces cheese A, where he had eaten the cheese directly. The last case had his onset of symptoms on 26 December 2008. The majority of the cases had their onset of symptoms between 16 November and 7 December 2008. The epidemic curve suggested an exposure span over 2 months.

Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to raw milk cheese in Quebec, Canada: Use of exact probability calculation and case study approaches to foodborne outbreak investigation
Journal of Food Protection®, Volume 75, Number 5, May 2012 , pp. 812-818(7)
Gaulin, Colette; Levac, Eric; Ramsay, Danielle; Dion, Réjean; Ismaïl, Johanne; Gingras, Suzanne; Lacroix, Christine
The analytical studies used to investigate foodborne outbreak are mostly case-control or retrospective cohort studies. However, these studies can be complex to perform and susceptible to biases. This article addresses basic principles of epidemiology, probability, and the use of case-case design to identify the source of an Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to raw milk cheese consumption in Quebec, Canada; a small number of cases with the same pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) profile were involved. Between 4 December 2008 and 15 January 2009, a cumulative total of 16 E. coli O157:H7 cases with the same PFGE profile were reported to Quebec public health authorities. Among the first six cases reported, three had consumed raw milk cheese from the same producer (cheese A). Raw milk cheese is consumed by about 2 % of the Quebec population. By using the exact probability calculation, it was found that a significantly higher proportion of E. coli O157:H7 cases (with the specific PFGE profile) than expected had consumed cheese A (P < 0.001). These computations were updated during the course of the investigation to include subsequent cases and gave the same results. A case-case study corroborated this result. This article considers alternative statistical and epidemiological approaches to investigate a foodborne outbreak—in particular with an exact probability calculation and case-case comparisons. This approach could offer a fast and inexpensive alternative to regular case-control studies to target public health actions, particularly during a foodborne outbreak.

When I think pee-wee hockey, I think produce? QPMA to sponsor Quebec tourney

For years, my friend Steve would ask, when did you stop caring, as I let in another goal during pick-up hockey.

Steve, it was probably as an 11-or-12-year-old when I went to Quebec City to play in the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament.

Fellow Brantford, Ontario (that’s in Canada) native, Wayne Gretzky had dazzled the crowds in Quebec a couple of years earlier, so we showed up to a professional ice rink packed with thousands of fans expecting Gretzky-magic from the Brantford boys.

I was awful. I started in goal, let in four goals in two periods, got pulled, and we ended up losing 6-o in our first game. Tournament over.

I didn’t care.

The train ride, the staying with the people who spoke some weird version of French, drunk parents quaffing roadside liquor shots in -20C weather as we went down the fancy snow slide outside the fancy hotel, it was all great, and I decided I wasn’t going to make the NHL after all.

The Quebec Produce Marketing Association has signed on as an official sponsor the tourney this year, to highlight the role of fresh fruits and vegetables in an active lifestyle, which is great, but I’m not sure anyone will care.