Food safety advice as herring egg harvest opens on Vancouver Island

Health officials are offering some food safety advice as this year’s herring egg harvest opens along a section of Vancouver Island’s east coast.

Hand-gathered herring eggs, known as spawn-on-kelp, are an important traditional seafood for many First Nations, but an outbreak of a cholera strain in 2018 forced closure of the harvest between French Creek and Qualicum Bay.

Island Health says in a news release that lab tests confirm a small group of people contracted the vibrio cholera bacteria last year after eating herring eggs from the affected region.

Officials say the bacteria are a “natural inhabitant” of the marine environment, are unable to produce the toxin found in more severe strains of cholera and are not from poor sanitation or sewage.

Until last year there had been no reported outbreaks, but a Health Canada and B.C. Centre for Disease Control review found salinity, acidity, temperature, sunlight and availability of nutrients can encourage the bacteria.

Water temperature above 10 C and sea water low in salt are two key factors in development of vibrio cholera, the review said.

Not bad for a bunch of southern Ontario boys (that’s in Canada).

Everyone has a camera: Vancouver bakery edition

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has issued a recall for Betty brand and Nancy’s Fancy Yummy in the Tummy brand bakery products.

The agency says the products may be unsafe due to possible contamination from mice infestation at the manufacturing plant.

The affected products were sold in Ontario and Quebec up to and including Feb. 8, and may contain harmful bacteria.

CFIA says there have been no reports of illness linked to the products.

Is it BS? Restaurant issues an apology after customer finds a rat in their soup

I never liked Vancouver.

People in Brisbane, they think Canada ends at Banff and Vancouver is some idyllic Canadiana, but to me it’s junkie haven.

Never liked it.

And what kind of popular eatery would serve a rat in a customer’s soup?
Or have some bullshit where a customer would fake a ploy?

That’s the Vancouver I’m familiar with.

The customer posted a video of the rodent in their soup on Instagram.

The Vancouver Sun reports the customer posted the video on Instagram Thursday after they discovered the rodent in their soup at Crab Park Chowdery. The restaurant is well known for serving soups and clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowls. Its owner, Ashton Phillips, says he does not understand how the rodent got into the soup and that the restaurant follows strict health code regulations. He added that a female customer was the one who found the rat in her soup.

We are doing everything we can to figure out what happened. You have to lid soup. This is a food safety measure and we always take it. It’s just impossible that a rat got in there. We are baffled.”

Human poop scattered on Vancouver grass patch

Most people in Brisbane think Canada ends at Vancouver, or maybe Banff.

I always thought Vancouver was a dump, and still do.

So do others.

Kenneth Chan of Daily Hive writes, This is not a sight you would expect immediately across the street from the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel in downtown.

But if you look closely into a narrow patch of overgrown grass between the sidewalk and the bike lane on the south side of Helmcken Street between the laneway south of Burrard Street and Hornby Street, you will see excrement.

To be more precise, you will see hundreds of large pieces of what appears to be human poop.

Daily Hive was tipped off by a health worker at St. Paul’s Hospital who uses the sidewalk next to the grass patch on a regular basis to walk between their office and home.

“Human poop looks different than dog poop,” said the worker who wished to remain anonymous. “I have heard other people talking about the human poop too, mostly people walking in the area. I have also seen human poop in the garden outside my office and on a park bench that is outside the building, which is not something a dog would do.”

“It’s not like I’m counting or keeping track of the quantity, though I have to say this is the most poop-covered stretch of grass I have ever seen, but the accumulation seems to happen overnight.”

Now you tell us: 10 sick with Salmonella, Vancouver restaurant shut for 5 days

John Colebourn of the Vancouver Sun reports the Phoenix Garden Seafood Restaurant at 2425 Nanaimo Street was shut down after about 10 people came down with Salmonella, said Vancouver Coastal Health environmental health officer Olga Bitzikos.

Phoenix-Garden-Chinese-Seafood-Restaurant1None of those who became ill had to be taken to hospital and all have recovered.

 Authorities moved in on July 14 and shut the eatery down until July 18.

All the restaurant’s prepared food products had to be thrown out and the restaurant staff had to sterilize and disinfect the facility.

“At this time we suspect some cross-contamination and poor food handling,” said Bitzikos.

Some who took ill had diarrhea, fevers and were vomiting, she said.

Naked sushi is happening in Vancouver (that’s in Canada), and, yes, it’s what you think it is

Ever heard of nyotaimori? It’s the Japanese practice of serving sushi on a naked body. It’s real, beyond that one scene from the first “Sex and the City” movie. And, for a price, you can now have your sushi served on a naked model in Vancouver. 

naked-sushi-4-620x936Naked Sushi, a catering and events company that supplies this unique service, just launched in Vancouver, reported VancityBuzz. The company employs models to lie very still, sometimes for hours at a time, while partygoers pluck sushi off of their naked bodies with chopsticks. 

A variety of maki and nigiri is arranged strategically on the model’s body on their stomachs, legs, chest area, etc. You can also order bento boxes and a variety of appetizers. And prices vary based on what kind of sushi you want, and how long you’d like your naked sushi model to stay at your party. 

Suspected norovirus outbreak linked to Vancouver restaurant after ill food handler showed up to work

A couple of years ago U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention noro dude, Aron Hall, called norovirus “the perfect human pathogen” in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. Hall said with its low median infectious dose and stability, norovirus is built to be transferred.

Beyond its durability, billions of particles can be shed in every gram of feces and vomit from an infected individual and can be transferred well via fomites, food and water. IMG_4237

Sort of a nightmare for a restaurant if one of their kitchen staff shows up to work ill.

Or two of them.

According to the Vancouver Sun, that’s what happened last at Craft Beer Market.

Vancouver’s 500-seat Craft Beer Market was shut down by Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) Wednesday because of a suspected Norovirus outbreak that could cost the company up to $20,000.

The pub-like restaurant at 85 West First, which boasts Canada’s largest craft beer selection, was closed at noon after a half dozen patrons reported being ill on the weekend, VCH said.

It was also confirmed that a few staff have been ill at work this week, so there is potential for more patrons to become ill as norovirus is highly contagious.

“Our best estimate is that it will be a couple of days before it can reopen,” said VCH director of public affairs, Gavin Wilson, in an interview. “But that’s subject to change, of course.”

Wilson said the closure order will allow for cleaning and sanitizing of the entire establishment, and that the order will be lifted when VCH is satisfied there is no further risk of transmission.

Owner-operator Scott Frank said in a release that the health and safety of their guests is a priority, adding that the restaurant was closed as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of guests.

Frank said that the restaurant wasn’t given a formal closure notice and that just two guests and two patrons came down with “symptoms of stomach flu.”

One Craft Beer Market Facebook’s page has some info:

We take the health and safety of our guests and team members very seriously. A couple of our team members haven’t been feeling well and as a precautionary measure we have closed the restaurant as we work with Coastal Health to identify and rectify any areas of concern. Please note that no causes have been identified at this time. We will keep you posted as the day goes on. Thank you for you understanding and patience.

And a timeline that lists:

– 1 staff member was sent home on Sunday, June 15th after feeling ill
– 1 staff member felt sick prior to going into work on Tuesday, June 17th but was feeling better throughout the day



It’s only a matter of time before food is contaminated’ Should produce farmers get subsidized clean water to reduce risk of disease?

The Vancouver Sun reports that Metro Vancouver has rejected a special water rate for regional farmers, arguing the move would lead to a “trickle-down effect” and do little to improve the financial viability of farming.

But some directors argue the decision will lead to contaminated produce, or force farmers to leave the region because they can’t afford the high costs to grow and wash their crops for market.

“We have a huge urban population and people like to eat,” Richmond Coun. Harold Steves said. “It’s only a matter of time before our food is contaminated. We owe it to our people to ensure we have clean water to wash our food.”

However, other directors argued they can’t justify water subsidies at this time, and referred the issue to staff to investigate other measures such as alternative irrigation water sources, to increase actively farmed land in the region.

Surrey Coun. Linda Hepner said her city, where one-third of the land is in the Agricultural Land Reserve, is undergoing a study on potential alternatives to using potable water for agriculture. She and other directors also argued if Metro had agreed to the subsidy, the region could have been inundated with requests by water-intensive industries such as poultry processing farms or flower growers.

Staff would also have to seek changes to provincial legislation to allow the subsidy, which is considered at this time to be more work for limited gains, said Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, chairman of Metro’s regional planning and agriculture committee. He said he would like to speak with the Agricultural Land Commission and talk to farmers about the issue first.

“There has to be a more convincing argument that this is going to have a higher benefit,” he said.

Delta is the only municipality to offer subsidized water rates to farmers right now. But if Metro were to follow suit it would cost the regional district $500,000 per year, according to a staff report.

Greenhouses are the major users of potable water. The other big users are vegetable growers, dairy farmers and organic farms.

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson pushed Metro mayors to support the subsidy Friday, arguing “water is the lifeline for agriculture.”

Robert Butler, of the Delta Farmers’ Institute, said farmers aren’t getting a fair shake. Higher costs in land taxes, he said, have resulted in farmers growing more high-value crops such as blueberries and cranberries.

“We are suffering from being a high-cost producer here and we can’t produce a lot of produce because it costs a lot of money,” Butler said. “Metro Vancouver wants us to grow local produce. But how the hell can you grow it if you don’t make any money?”

The primary source of water for irrigation of crops is rivers and ditches as well as groundwater. But the staff report notes with emerging food safety concerns, reduced availability of fresh water and potential effects of climate change, the demand for potable water by agriculture may be increasing.

Bad tuna sends seven Subway customers to the hospital in Vancouver

Seven customers at a Subway sandwich outlet in the international terminal of the Vancouver airport were taken to hospital on Friday afternoon suffering from an apparent bout of food poisoning.

Vancouver Coastal Health spokesman Justin Karasick said the suspected cause of their illness was some tuna that may not have been stored at the right temperature.

The customers are believed to have been stricken by a form of food poisoning known as scombroid, which occurs when there is a high level of histamine in raw or uncooked fish, said Mr. Karasick.

Nosestretcher alert: foodborne illness happens in lots of places besides home

It’s one of those throwaway catch phrases that people promoting some food safety information campaign just can’t help themselves from using: most foodborne illness is from improper handling and cooking of food at home.

In one of those throwaway blurbs in the Vancouver Sun this morning (that’s in Canada), Mia Stainsby reports:

“A doctor (Dr. John Carsely, Vancouver Coastal Health medical health officer) and a chef (David Robertson, of Dirty Apron Cooking School) will be giving a talk on how to prevent food-borne illnesses at home. Some 700,000 cases of food-borne illnesses are reported in B.C. each year and most are from improper handling and cooking of food at home.”

Show me the data. We’ve reviewed most of the data and seen estimates of the home as the source of foodborne illness vary from 11-84 per cent. And most of the data sucks. If a person eats peanut butter or spinach at home, they might get sick at home, but the contamination was beyond the control of the consumer.

As we’ve written before, while some occurrences of foodborne illness result from unsafe practices during final preparation or serving at the site where food was consumed, others are consequences of receiving contaminated food from a supplier, or both. Data gathered on instances of contamination that lead to illness make greater contributions to the development of programs that reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses, than data or assumptions that describe locations where contaminated food is consumed.

The talk will apparently share the importance of using cooking and fridge thermometers to help prevent food poisoning. Great. Foodservice needs that message as well, so why throw in a throwaway comment about the home?

And how ironically ironic that the talk takes place at 11 a.m. at Dirty Apron Cooking School. Take some swabs of those dirty aprons at the cooking school; it’s not a home.

Jacob, C.J. and Powell, D.A. 2009. Where does foodborne illness happen—in the home, at foodservice, or elsewhere—and does it matter? Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, 6(9): 1121-1123.

Foodservice professionals, politicians, and the media are often cited making claims as to which locations most often expose consumers to foodborne pathogens. Many times, it is implied that most foodborne illnesses originate from food consumed where dishes are prepared to order, such as restaurants or in private homes. The manner in which the question is posed and answered frequently reveals a speculative bias that either favors homemade or foodservice meals as the most common source of foodborne pathogens. Many answers have little or no scientific grounding, while others use data compiled by passive surveillance systems. Current surveillance systems focus on the place where food is consumed rather than the point where food is contaminated. Rather than focusing on the location of consumption—and blaming consumers and others—analysis of the steps leading to foodborne illness should center on the causes of contamination in a complex farm-to-fork food safety system.