My back still aches when I hear that word, Tillsonburg: Oh, Thunder Bay

If you ate at a banquet or one of the restaurants at Thunder Bay’s Valhalla Inn this past weekend, the district’s health unit wants to hear from you.

Banquet table, selective focus, canon 1Ds mark III

Banquet table, selective focus, canon 1Ds mark III

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit says nearly 50 people have reported becoming ill after eating at the hotel.

The health unit’s manager of environmental health says the symptoms most people had are consistent with a food-borne illness.

“The illness was characterized primarily by vomiting and diarrhea simultaneously,” Lee Sieswerda said. “It occurred about a day or two after the meal, and the symptoms lasted for about a day.”

Sieswerda said inspectors have looked at the kitchen at the Valhalla as part of their investigation and didn’t find any ongoing issues at the kitchen.

Still don’t like sushi: Thunder Bay health unit suspects foodborne illness at Bento Sushi

The Thunder Bay health unit wants to hear from people who bought food at Bento Sushi in the Real Canadian Superstore in Thunder Bay, Ont., on March 28.

8095_reddragroll_listThe health unit stated in a written release Wednesday that it is investigating cases of suspected foodborne illness after four people who purchased sushi at the Bento location in the Superstore in the city fell ill within four to five hours of eating it.

The reported illness was characterized by vomiting, diarrhea and weakness and lasted approximately 24 hours.

Thunder Bay restaurant food handler has hepatitis A

There’s a lot of hep A in food handlers making the news. Regardless of whether the staff member is a superstar handwasher, or not so stellar, folks who are exposed will be lining up for shots somewhere. And the stigma associated with the business is hard to shake.

According to the Thunder Bay News Watch (that’s in Canada), Bight Restaurant and Bar is experiencing the hepatitis A rollercoaster.51h4OC-rlZL._SY300_

The Health Unit is investigating a case of hepatitis A in an employee of Bight Restaurant and Bar, located at 2210 Sleeping Giant Parkway, Unit 100, Marina Park.

Anyone who visited this restaurant between March 23 and April 12 may have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus.

Patrons who have previously completed the two-dose hepatitis A vaccine series or the three-dose Twinrix® series would be protected. Staff of the restaurant is being offered immunization. Although the vaccine is most effective if given within 14 days of exposure, the Health Unit will be offering a free vaccination clinic on Saturday, April 18 from 12:00 to 3:00pm at 999 Balmoral Street (corner of Balmoral and William Street) for those that visited the establishment between March 23 and April 12.

Banquet hall in Canada charged following suspected foodborne illness

A Thunder Bay banquet hall is facing charges following a suspected foodborne illness outbreak.

The outbreak followed an event at the Moose Hall on Fort William Road on Dec. 13. 

Officials with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit say an estimated 20 per cent of the 270 people in attendance began displaying symptoms within a few hours of consuming food moose-hallserved at the hall. 

But the outbreak was short lived, as the symptoms only lasted about 24 hours. 

A charge has been laid and the hall’s food production has been suspended pending the outcome of their investigation.

85 sick; Norovirus confirmed in Thunder Bay, food handler suspected

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit confirmed Friday that it was the Norovirus that caused an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness that affected dozens of people.

CBC News reports Maltese Grocery had shut down its catering operations temporarily after 85 people became sick after eating food at three events maltesegrocerythe company had catered the previous week. They’ve since resumed, but with additional precautions.

Senior Public Health Inspector Abby Mackie said clinical specimens submitted to a lab confirmed the Norovirus to be the source of the outbreak.

“It looks as if we’re looking at a food handler that may have inadvertently transmitted the illness through food,” Mackie said.

“People can be shedding Noro-like virus and not even know. So, it’s really important to be very stringent with hand-washing, glove use and other cleaning and disinfecting.”

Maltese Grocery is making some additional changes to its cleaning and hand-washing procedures, including the use of new chemicals and sanitizers.

The owners of the company released a statement apologizing for the outbreak.

“We are very sorry for everyone who has been affected and we take full responsibility, ” Lisa and Dave Maltese said, adding that they are “working with the Health Unit and have taken every precaution to ensure this does not happen again.”

126 sick from the Old Barn in Thunder Bay; nostalgia no security when barfing

People barfing because of crappy food safety don’t care if you’ve been doing things one way and never made anyone sick for millennia, dating back to your spaceship DNA founders visiting earth.

Instead, it’s, I’m barfing now because you can’t be bothered to learn something new.

Oh, and public health types: there’s a difference between E. coli and norovirus. Maybe it’s both. Probably never happened before; figure it out.

There’s a mess of an outbreak going on in Thunder Bay, Ontario (that’s in Canada, eh?)

The district health unit is looking into the cause of an illness that struck at least 126 people who visited This Old Barn last weekend. Christopher Beveridge, manager of environmental health for the district health unit, said Thursday that norovirus was found in a stool sample from a patient admitted to hospital.

"We’re not ruling out water just yet, because norovirus can survive in a water environment," Beveridge said. "But now we’re looking at more of the food handling, as well. Where earlier in the week with the contaminated water sample we were really looking at the water system."

Earlier health unit tests found E. coli in the water.

Beveridge said the department wasn’t ruling out the possibility that both E. coli and norovirus could have been involved.

Michael Ellchook, the owner of This Old Barn, has apologized to all those who got sick. He said he has operated the restaurant for 17 years, and has never before had a problem like this.

"They found E. coli levels are a little bit high, so I’m figuring it’s got to do with the water. We had a storm on the weekend. And being a well — we have a well system — I’m thinking that’s where most of it came from," Ellchook said earlier in the day.

A well? Is the water ever tested? Is that data available? Would you make it publicly available?

Beveridge said 256 people ate or drank at the restaurant between May 11 and May 13. The health unit has contacted 208 of these people and is trying to reach the remainder to get information to assist in the investigation.

The health unit became aware of the situation after being contacted by emergency-room staff the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, where 12 people were admitted with E. coli infection symptoms.

Clostridium in holiday meal sickens 34 in Thunder Bay

The Slovak Legion in Thunder Bay, Ontario (that’s in Canada, and it’s cold) hosted a Christmas meal on Dec. 14, 2010; at least 34 diners ended up barfing.

Clostridium prefringens (that’s perfringens – dp) has been identified as the bacteria that caused the illnesses. It was found in the cooked turkey sample and stool samples that were submitted for testing.

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit notes almost all food-related outbreaks of C. perfringens are associated with inadequately cooled or reheated meals such as turkey dinners. Outbreaks are usually traced to large-scale food premises.

To prevent food-related illness:
• Educate food handlers on correct food safety practices
• Serve meat dishes hot, or as soon as they are cooked
• Do not partially cook meat and poultry one day and reheat the next
• Divide large amounts of food into smaller containers to allow rapid cooling

Try out our holiday meal food safety infosheet at


Salmonella outbreak in N. Ontario may be linked to melons

When I think Thunder Bay, Ontario in January, I think melons.

Ripe, juicy melons, like cantaloupe.

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit is investigating an increased number of Salmonella cases in Thunder Bay and District. Twenty-three cases of Salmonella have been reported since January of this year. We would normally expect approximately seven (7) cases in this time period.

Some cases have been linked to person-to-person transmission or travel and some are related to a North American outbreak being investigated by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). Six cases are still under investigation, but like most Salmonella cases, are likely related to unsafe food handling in the home. …

The outbreak under investigation by PHAC may be related to melons. Because melons grow at ground level, their rough and pitted outer skin can trap Salmonella bacteria from the soil. If the outer skin of a melon is contaminated, the fruit inside may be affected when the melon is cut. Follow these tips:

* Buy melons that are not bruised or damaged and store them in the fridge.
* Throw away any melon that is bruised or rotten.
* Wash all melons before cutting.  When cleaning a cantaloupe, brush the whole fruit under running water using a clean produce brush, getting into all the pits on the skin.
* Put cut melon on a clean plate; don’t put the pieces back on the cutting board.
* Don’t reuse any food equipment (e.g. knife, cutting board) used to prepare a melon.
* Wash all equipment with hot water and soap or clean them in the dishwasher.
* Store cut melon in a clean container in the fridge.

How is Salmonella in melons a consumer handling issue? Where is the data that says most Salmonella cases are related to unsafe food handling in the home? And why no notice from PHAC about an outbreak investigation?