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  • teewong 8:57 pm on December 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , raw meat, Superbugs   

    “MEAT” Superbugs 

    Antibiotics controversies

    In North America, about 23,000 deaths are reported every year due to superbug infections (antibiotic resistant infections). Antibiotics are given as drugs to treat bacterial infections. When the bacteria become resistant to three or more types of antibiotics, they lead to the rise of superbugs (Consumer Reports, 2015). Many factors can contribute to the cause of these antibiotic resistant superbug infections, one of which is the abuse of antibiotics in animal farm practices. Consumer Reports did a 3-year investigation on raw meat products revealing superbugs present in four major types of raw meat: turkey, chicken, beef, and shrimp. Samples taken in for testing showed superbugs present in: 84% of turkey samples, 57% of chicken samples, and 14% for both beef and shrimp samples (Consumer Reports, 2015). There may be a big gap between certain meat types, but this study was done over three years, and the sample size ranged from 168 to 304. As it is shown above, the presence of superbugs in raw products indirectly proves the overuse of antibiotics in animal farm, which leads to the death of superbug infected patients.

    On the other hand, according to the Consumer Reports, the meat and poultry industries claim that drugs (antibiotics) were not widely overused and the use of drugs are important to ensure animal’s health, welfare and food safety to a certain extent. However, the science behind it suggests otherwise.

    How does antibiotic resistant occur?

    DNA mutations often occur naturally in bacteria, but when a gene that is responsible for the bacterium’s survival is mutated, antibiotic resistance may appear. Antibiotic resistance happens when a pathogen manages to escape from being killed by antibiotics and therefore, is able replicate in numbers. However, it does not need a daily routine of antibiotic applications to encourage superbugs to flourish as there is also another mechanism in promoting the multiplication. Gene transfer is a common mechanism that happens as a DNA of an organism is passed onto another organism that is nearby; consequently, infecting neighboring organisms.


    Will it cause extreme harm?

    No, as long as you cook the meat to the appropriate temperature, harmful pathogens should not be able to survive and infect us. However, if we do get superbug infections from eating meat that were not cooked properly, it would become a life-threatening situation since superbugs are resistant to all known antibiotics. If there are people who are very concerned with superbugs in the meat, switching to meat products that are labeled “Organic” or “No Antibiotics” will minimize the chances of superbug exposures.


    Main article for this blog: British Columbia,. (2015). Superbugs found in a lot of meat, chicken and fish. Retrieved 5 December 2015, from,. (2015). Making The World Safe From Superbugs – Consumer Reports. Retrieved 5 December 2015, from

    • Michelle Ebtia 9:55 pm on December 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I was not surprised to learn that the use of antibiotics in animal farming contributes to the prevalence of antibiotic resistance. To avoid contracting infections cause by such pathogens I always choose to buy meat from organically raised animals. However, I did a quick research in the present literature and surprisingly came across several articles that report the presence of antibiotic resistant pathogens in organic meat, with levels similar to those of conventionally raised animals (LeJeune & Christie 2004; Luangtongkum et al. 2006; Millman et al. 2013). This could be due to cross-contamination post-slaughter or due to the fact that “organic chicks can receive antibiotics via in ovo injections and during the first day of life” (Millman et al. 2013)!!

      Works Cited:
      LeJeune, J. T., & Christie, N. P. (2004). Microbiological Quality of Ground Beef from Conventionally-Reared Cattle and”Raised without Antibiotics”Label Claims. Journal of Food Protection®, 67(7), 1433-1437.

      Luangtongkum, T., Morishita, T. Y., Ison, A. J., Huang, S., McDermott, P. F., & Zhang, Q. (2006). Effect of conventional and organic production practices on the prevalence and antimicrobial resistance of Campylobacter spp. in poultry. Applied and environmental microbiology, 72(5), 3600-3607.

      Millman, J. M., Waits, K., Grande, H., Marks, A. R., Marks, J. C., Price, L. B., & Hungate, B. A. (2013). Prevalence of antibiotic-resistant E. coli in retail chicken: comparing conventional, organic, kosher, and raised without antibiotics. F1000Research, 2.

    • shinnie 4:15 pm on December 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Hello! I have actually read an article on New York Times that a lot of newborns in India have been dying as a result of superbugs infections. This is largely due to an uncontrolled usage of antibiotics that lead to the massive growth of multi-drug resistance bacteria. The lack of sanitation and hygiene forced health agencies to look into increased use of antibiotics. As we have learned in class, babies/young children are the most susceptible to diseases because they have not yet acquired a strong immune systems or micro-flora that helps them combat other pathogenic bacteria. It is even more frightening to note that the routes of transmission… are everywhere! This includes the water, sewage, animals, soil and even humans may b e carriers of these superbugs.

    • Susanna Ko 4:58 pm on December 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I guess since antibiotic residue testing is not part of regulations in India, or is not highly regulated, that this is able to happen. It’s dangerous to have antibiotic residue because the effects of the metabolism/degradation of these residues in human bodies is also unknown. As we’ve learned in class, it could lead to health issues as well as the development of antimicrobial-resistant strains of microorganisms. Why do they suggest that cooking will help? Is it because cooking will denature these antibiotic compounds? What if they become carcinogenic or mutagenic from heating?

      • Susanna Ko 5:05 pm on December 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Sorry India is in response to Shinnie’s post. And I mean that the antibiotic residue testing may not be part of the routine testing in North America.

    • WinnieLiao 8:11 pm on December 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Wow! Thanks Shinnie and Susanna for the discussion! In my opinion sanitary and hygiene controls are especially important for us as consumers when handling food. Public education on prevention of superbugs may be helpful in reducing the infected population; in fact, knowing about this may assist mothers to become more aware of the disease. Additionally, how animals are raised and in what environment they are raised in may also contribute to the safety of our daily diets. I had a couple of questions in mind after reading the article: I wonder why turkey would be on the top of the list? How does shrimp acquire the superbugs? Can fish be potentially contaminated as well?

    • mustafa akhtar 12:09 am on December 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      As a vegetarian, I am once again appalled by this. I find this especially concerning as such meat products could potentially harness growth of stronger and potentially much more dangerous pathogens in the farm environment. It seems like as of now, the only regulations in North America for drug resistance genes are visual quality checks that only scrape the surface, and there is room for more research in this area.

  • MarinaMoon 3:30 pm on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Animal, cloned meat, Cloning, , meat   

    (Meat) European parliament votes to ban cloning of farm animals 

    What is your opinion on human cloning? Have you ever thought about having another identical self? Not only the surface but genetically identical? To certain extent, many would feel leery even thinking about it.

    Then what are your opinions on animal cloning of animals? Unlike human cloning, there seems to be distinct split opinions between different countries. Some countries suggest a positive perspective toward the idea of cloning animals for meat productions. In 2008, FDA has ultimately concluded that meat from cloned animals and offspring of clones are safe to be consumed by consumers. They added that it is as safe as those foods from conventionally bred animals. Since then, products of cloned animals, which include cow, goat and pig, are allowed to be sold in the market without any labelling that differentiate cloned animals from conventionally bred ones.Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 11.10.41 PM

    How did this issue on cloned animals arise in the first place?

    The history of cloning started with a female domestic sheep named Dolly in Scotland in 1996. Cloning of animals is a technique that involves use of adult somatic cell by replacing the nucleus of unfertilized ovum to nucleus of the somatic cell and produces an embryo. After its first introduction from Scotland, cloning of animals has been studied and practiced ever since.

    Ironically, in 8th of September 2015, the European Parliament voted to ban animal cloning completely including all farm animals, their descendants, and products derived from them that include imported products into the Europe. With issues regarding animal welfare and ethical considerations, the European Parliament has decided to fully ban the practice of cloning animals. In addition, despite FDA’s claim that cloned animals are safe to consume by human, there are several concerns associated with consumption of cloned animals. Cloned animals tend to have problem delivering live young and produce lameness and in order to overcome this issue, they are treated with hormones and antibiotics. With consumption of these heavily dosed cloned animals, number of health risk may arise such as allergenicity, development of antimicrobial resistant microbes, toxicity, carcinogenicity and much more. To add to this notion, European Food Safety Authority has stated that there are still uncertainties in the risk from the lack of studies and evidence available for information on safety of cloned animals except cattles and pigs.

    WiScreen Shot 2015-12-02 at 2.09.54 PMth two very different opinions toward consumption of animals from North America and Europe, it is hard to choose which studies are true. The controversy of having cloned animals for meat production and other consumption is still unresolved as no one possess enough evidence to fully back up their opinions.

    How do you feel about animal cloning now? Did this persuade to change your mind to be against cloned animals or not?

    Let me know on the comments below!



    Main article for this blog:  E.U parliament votes to ban cloning of farm animals.. Retrieved on Nov 25th, 2015 from

    Are We Eating Cloned Meat? Retreived on Nov 28th, 2015 from

    Center for Food Safety. Retrieved on Nov 28th, 2015 from

    European Food Safety Authority. Retrieved on Nov 28th 2015 from

    European Parliament News. Retrieved on Nov 29th, 2015:

    U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved on Nov 25th, 2015 from

    • csontani 9:41 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I’m not necessarily against animal cloning but I wouldn’t want to eat meat from cloned animals. It is still so strange for me cause it just seems like it’s not real meat. Plus, we don’t even know what illness it can cause and what other side effects are there. It might potentially be a good idea in the future when earth’s population increased significantly and there’s less food source but I think that they should only do that once they’re certain that cloned meats are perfectly safe and if they can process it with less additives and hormones.

    • cvalencia 10:38 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      What is the primary purspose of cloning animals? I think that it shouldn’t be done unless there is a great benefit that outweighs the risk of having adverse consequences to human health (if they are for consumption).. I wouldn’t eat meat and any products from cloned animals, just because of the uncertainty that goes along with it.

    • BarbaraCorreiaFaustino 12:50 pm on December 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      That was a very thought-provoking article! I agree with the above comment, that I wouldn’t want to eat meat from cloned animals because of the uncertainty of whether consuming it might lead to health consequences. I believe that there should many more studies to determine if the consumption of this kind of product is really safe, so that we can form a more informed opinion about this issue.

    • KristinaRichmond 7:45 pm on December 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It seems like there are a lot of ethical and safety issues that need to be explored further in this case. This is a very interesting article though, and with ever increasing technology it makes me wonder about what food production will be like in the future. I know there are things like lab grown burgers being developed. However, I think cost would be a huge consideration, as I imagine the lab techniques could be quite expensive.

    • Jasmine Lee 2:57 am on December 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I support Europe’s decision to completely ban cloning of farm animals for meat consumption. There needs to be more research studies, i.e. randomized control trials, on the potential complications. Furthermore, there are an increasing number of studies, which indicate a strong association between food choices and human health. Aside from the nutrients in the meat, microRNAs, which are non-protein-coding RNAs, are present in animal tissues. From my FNH 451 research project last year, several articles have claimed that specific microRNAs may be correlated with altering the gene expression of certain regulatory proteins, which will affect disease development in humans. Hence, frequent consumption of cloned foods with certain levels of microRNAs may potentially and negatively expose individuals to the progression of particular diseases.

    • RainShen 9:19 pm on December 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It is a interesting post! I never know that cloned animals for meat consumption is allowed in North America. For me the meat from cloned animals is like those GMO products we have in the market now. I do not know if they are safe or unsafe, since it is still a debatable issue in food industry, but it has to be clearly labelled on the food products to let the customers know. The meat from cloned animals sold in the market without any labelling that differentiate cloned animals from conventionally bred ones is not acceptable for me. As mentioned in the post, they are treated with hormones and antibiotics, so by consuming the meat it may cause antimicrobial resistance, toxicity, and carcinogenicity for the consumers. With that many potential dangers, it should be labelled “cloned animal” to notify customers that consumption of the meat may take some level of risk, since the research is still ongoing.

    • yichen25 2:17 am on December 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is such an interesting post. I never thought that animal cloning could be applied in food production. I am pretty sure that this idea will not be acceptable by the majority as there are many ethical and safety aspects to be considered. Firstly, cloning an animal requires complicated genetic modification procedures and as far as I have known, there is a potential for mutation and/or unstable consequences leading to that. Also, there are not many scientific evidences that have proven the safety aspects of the consumption of cloned animals and the side effects of consuming cloned animals are still fairly unknown. Therefore, more research should be done on the safety aspects on the consumption of the cloned animals before authorizing this practice.

    • JorgeMadrigalPons 10:15 pm on December 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I personally don’t think there is much benefit in cloning animals for meat consumption, considering that it involves very complicated procedures, but I do not disagree with it. For meat production, it should be better to just clone a specific tissue (Tissue culture engineering), it is much more efficient than cloning the whole body to just kill it after. Cultured meat has a great potential to improve the nutritional quality and safety of the product, since it can be manipulated in vitro. Also, there is no need to kill animals.

    • EmilyChow 2:17 am on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Wow! I can’t believe that the meat sold in North American supermarkets now could be from a cloned animal. Since this was FDA approved back in 2008, there must be an exponential number of offspring from breeding of the original clones. Who knows how much of the meat nowadays are from a cloned animal? I think cloning is a major scientific field of research and this concept can potentially solve the food scarcity issues; however, there is concern due to the lack of scientific studies and evidence. There could be dangers of consuming cloned meat that we are yet to be aware of. Although the concept of cloning is controversial, it is also innovative. With more research and evidence in this field to confirm its safety, I believe cloning could give rise to solutions for many food-related issues in the future.

    • CandiceZheng 3:12 pm on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting topic! Cloning animals, like all the genetically modified food commodities in the market, are of great concern currently. I believe there are certainly benefits of using the gene techniques such as keeping the beneficial traits while reducing the possibility of the bad traits to produce animals and plants that would bring more health and economic benefits to human being. In this way our food products would be cheaper and more affordable for the general population. However, there are definitely lots of concerns regarding genetically engineered products, too. Although FDA has claimed that meat from cloned animals and offspring of clones are safe to be consumed by consumers; that genetically modified salmon is as safe to eat as non-GE salmon (, there might still be some undiscovered adverse health effect that we don’t know yet.

  • Mandy Tam 6:29 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , pets   

    (Meat) Pet Food Safety is As Important As Human Food Safety 

    Cute Cat

    Surprise! Human is not the only species on earth that consume meat. Cats and dogs we have at home consume meats as well. As raising pets in the family become more and more popular, pet food becomes a high demand in the market. Industrialization comes along and a lot of companies try to lower their price by using many different methods.


    Chemical Structure of Melamine Cyanurate


    One of the method was to lowering the protein content by substituting meat with wheat gluten. Wheat gluten itself does not cause any harm to animals, however, the additional of melamine and cyanuric acid does. Melamine contains 66% nitrogen and it is used for plastic production (Suchy et al., 2009). Cyanuric acid is a bleaching agent and it contains non-protein nitrogen like melamine (Suchy et al., 2009). The combination of melamine and cyanuric acid forms melamine cyanurate and it is an insoluble compound that can block renal function (Suchy et al., 2009). Eventually, it causes renal failure in animals and eventually death (Suchy et al., 2009).


    At late 2006 and early 2007, gluten suppliers in China decided to add melamine and cyanuric acid into the wheat gluten to higher the nitrogen value (FDA, 2009). Most protein analyses were based on amount of nitrogen in sample so a higher nitrogen value could trick buyers by claiming a high protein value for their product (FDA, 2009). Buyers would not know that they were buying wheat gluten with non-protein nitrogen chemicals like melamine and cyanuric if the chemicals were not listed out. Pet food companies purchased the wheat gluten and added into their pet food products without knowing the danger of it (FDA, 2009).


    “cut and gravy” style pet food


    In many affected brands, Menu Foods Limited had the highest impact. Menu Foods Limited was a company based in Canada and it sold pet foods across Canada and United State (Smith, 2007). The company “cut and gravy” style pet food was first reported to cause renal failure and death (FDA, 2009). It was also the first company began to recall and had the largest recall in comparison with other companies (Smith, 2007).
    Although there were 8500 animal deaths reported to FDA in related to this incident, there were no specific number of affected animals according to FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) because of lack of surveillance network (FDA, 2009; Heavey, 2007).


    After the incident, FDA developed a network called Pet Event Tracking Network (PETNet) to improve surveillance (Dangin et al., 2015). The database allows FDA and state agencies to share information about potential outbreaks and pet-food related incidents instantaneously (Dangin et al., 2015). The system was finally finalized at 2011 (Dangin et al., 2015). You might think surveillance would improve after this tragedy, however, nothing has really changed.



    Jerky Dog Treat That Required to Be Recall at 2015


    In September 2015, a jerky dog treat has reportedly contaminated with amantadine and required to be recall (FDA, 2015a) . Amantadine is an antiviral drug to treat Parkinson’s disease (FDA, 2015b). Certain farms and plants used it to treat avian flu (FDA, 2015b). Although it is allowed to use as a medication for animal in certain countries, it is not approve to be in pet food in the U.S. (FDA, 2015b). This is not the first time that happen in human history. In 2014, there were more than 4800 complaints in regarded of jerky pet treats (Desk, 2014; FDA, 2015b). More than 1000 dogs were reportedly dead because of jerky pet treats from China (Desk, 2014; FDA, 2015b). Although there is no definite correlation with amantadine and the 2014 incident, it is one of the potential cause (Desk, 2014). In term of the source of illness, it is still unknown according to a report given out by FDA in February 2015 (FDA, 2015b). Moreover, complaints in regard of jerky pet treat is still continuing in 2015 (FDA, 2015b).


    Dogs and cats cannot choose what they eat. Human have a great responsibility on what they provide to their pets. In 2015, nothing has really improved in term of pet food safety. In the future, we should really make sure that no more poor animals are dead because of our greediness; therefore, we should continue to improve our regulations and surveillance program to protect them.





    1. View on the incidents
    2. Do you think people are simply over reacting or should there be more regulation?
    3. Is globalization good for the food industry or not?


    Here is a news report summarizing what happen at 2007:


    Here is a news report about jerky pet treat:


    Dangin, A., Murphy, J., & Melluso, C. (2015, October 5). PETNet: An Information Exchange for Pet Food Related Incidents. Retrieved November 30, 2015, from

    Desk, N. (2014, May 20). FDA Update: 1000+ Dog Deaths Potentially Linked to Chinese Jerky Treats. Food Safety News.
    FDA. (2009, October 7). Melamine Pet Food Recall – Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved December 2, 2015, from

    FDA. (2015a, September 23). Enforcement Report – Week of September 23, 2015. Retrieved December 2, 2015, from

    FDA. (2015b, February 19). FDA Issues Update on Jerky Pet Treat Investigation. Retrieved December 2, 2015, from
    Heavey, S. (2007, May 4). U.S. petfood recall widens on cross-contamination. Thomson Reuters.
    Smith, J. (2007, March 16). Huge pet food recall launched. Toronto Star.
    Suchý P, Straková E, Herzig I, Staňa J, Kalusová R, Pospíchalová M. Toxicological risk of melamine and cyanuric acid in food and feed.Interdisciplinary Toxicology. 2009;2(2):55-59. doi:10.2478/v10102-009-0010-6

    • Winston Liang 7:56 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I remember a couple years ago, the government is taking my initiatives on ensuring consumers are more aware on whats coming into the country – including proper labeling. Do you think enough is being done? What opinions do you have to the government or consumers to ensure more transparency of what is going into our pets mouths?

    • Jasmine Lee 11:14 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It is terrible to hear that a few pet food manufacturers are only concerned about lowering costs and maximizing profits. They are not considering any repercussions that may result from substitution with ingredients of lower value, even if the product is intended for pet consumption. Additionally, this matter may be worrisome for some members of the human community. I have read that a few individuals consume pet food as part of their diet for the purpose of losing weight or to gain nutrition due to the unaffordability of what is generally accepted as “human food”. These vulnerable individuals will be unknowingly exposed to these harmful substances as they are solely relying on the package labels. I agree that there is an urgent need for better regulations and surveillance programs of pet food quality.

    • elaine chan 1:03 am on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      A nice take on this food blog by talking about animals as victims from consuming food products! I agree with Jasmine’s comment above, it’s certainly disheartening to hear that there are companies out there, that are willing trading their soul for some extra money. The purchasers of this gluten product, and the customers of the pet food products are definitely innocent victims. More specifically, the purchasers ordered this product thinking that it will supply the stated about of nitrogen, so it can meet the consumers’ requirements and produce a nutritious product. And on the customer’s end, they purchased the pet food hoping that it would provide the nutritional value required by their pets. In a situation like this, it’s definitely hard for customers to determine what’s best for their pets because they can only know so much about a product by reading the label. However, on the purchaser’s end, hopefully they can implement more strict raw material testing procedures to help ensure that their final products are safe for consumption by pets.

    • Jenny T 9:36 am on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Very informative piece Mandy! This topic on pet food and safety is rarely talked about but is equally important for pet owners to know. This reminded me of the baby formula incident a while back, but pet versoon. Both the pet owners and pets are the victims here because as much as we all want to choose the best product, we place our trust in the FDA and the manufacturers to do their jobs right and ethically. What is worse is that pets won’t be able to tell us what is wrong until it might be too late and they are so reliant on us. I hope the PETNet proves to be effective and FDA does more thorough testing in preventing further incidents like this. Thanks for making us more aware of this issue with this post!

    • ColleenChong 12:51 pm on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for sharing this information. I also remember the incident in china where melamine was added in to baby milk formulas, which caused many health problems to infants. Similar to this incident the compound was added in to the formula to increase the protein content to add value to the product. I agree with Jenny how pet food safety is not considered as important in public. Before reading this blog post I was no aware that this also happens in the pet food industry. I think government regulatory organizations needs to be more proactive in pet food inspection to prevent any alternation of foods that is deemed unsafe to the consumers.

    • dgozali 6:29 pm on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Its so sad to hear that pet food safety is not a topic that has been widely discussed or treated as seriously as human food safety. As i have pets myself, I can really identify with this issue as I would try to look up the nutritional content on pet food packages to make sure that the food is healthy for my own pets. I definitely think that it is worth it to create more regulations in order to prevent pet food manufacturers from adding dangerous ingredients. Especially since there are so many pet owners out there and lots of people who support animal welfare causes, they would greatly support the implementation of more regulations to ensure pet/animal safety.

    • Silvia Low 4:07 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I had a close encounter with contaminated pet food products before! My sister had purchased a bag of treats for our dog in the past (which he loved) and when he finished it, she asked me to go buy another bag of it. So i went to the store and looked all over for it but couldn’t find it. I asked the sales associate and they said they didn’t sell the brand but that was strange because my sister had bought it from the same store. What i did next is what everyone does… i googled it. And i found out that there was a massive recall on the product just a couple months back because the product was contaminated in the factories they originated from in China. So my dog may have consumed the same contaminated products without us even knowing! But he turned out okay so I’m happy. 🙂

    • cheryl lau 3:12 pm on December 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Great article! As a cat owner, the content of this article is very disconcerting. I agree that it is up to us pet owners to determine if the food is safe for our pets to consume. However, I also think it is important for pet food producers to do their own testing on their raw materials as well. After this incident, I assume that the pet food company has reassessed their procedures on approving suppliers. Although it is quite common in the food industry to choose cheaper raw materials and sacrifice the quality, the consequences can sometimes be very severe, as shown in this article. The protein supplier may have wanted to lower the costs as profit margins are quite low for raw material suppliers, but there are other less harmful ways to do so.

    • AngeliMalimban 9:28 pm on December 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This definitely hits close to home since I have my little dog at home, who just loves to eat everything and anything. I think a lot of companies and people do not realize that what is bad for us is [most likely] bad for dogs, and that there are so many things that we consume that are not good for them either! There definitely should be more regulation for pet food… it really does surprise me that they are only doing something about it now and it was only recently finalized. It sickens me that the companies would add more nitrogen to trick the people into getting more protein… just because it has a higher nitrogen content does not mean the proteins are complete or good for the dog (or even just protein in general). I hope pet owners are smarter than that to believe those tricks. I definitely should check out the ingredients on the label, especially since my dog is becoming old.

    • DeniseZhang 7:08 pm on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I was quite surprised by these contaminated pet foods cases. I haven’t heard of any related cases before. I do believe we need to pay the same amount of attention on these pets foods, as we live with our pets and there might be a chance that these contaminated pet foods can affect human beings as well. After reading above comments, as an animal lover, I can’t believe this issue was that close to us. I hope officials can work on improving surveillance on pet foods and even farm animal feeds in the future.

    • Ya Gao 11:19 pm on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is a tragedy to see. I personally have two dogs accompanying me. When I tried to buy treats for them from Amazon, I saw those comments about avoiding dog foods from China at all cost. I didn’t look into specific details until now I know. It is such a pain to see people putting someone else’s pets on danger for money. Because for us, as pet owners, they are part of the family. What I saw in the article above is not just number, I saw heart broken families who lost their beloved family members. This is not one of food borne outbreaks that are sometimes unpredictable. This is an intentional crime!!! The company that added chemicals to pet foods that are known to cause harm on animals should pay for this.

    • MichelleLui 10:35 pm on December 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I agree there are much improvement needed in regulating the pet food. Many pet owners now read the nutrition label for wholesome ingredients or choose reputable brand. Some even cook for their pets. Consumers will have to voice out their concern when it comes to the food safety of pet food. Pet food industry will need to work on controlling the quality and food safety of the ingredients. They need to come from an approved source (e.g. federally registered meat establishment) with certificate of analysis (e.g. heavy metals, pathogens).

  • amreenj 3:00 pm on November 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Expired, Fast Food, , , Scandal   


    In July 2014, the parent company of Shanghai’s Husi Foods, OSI Group LLC., recalled all products made by its Shanghai unit as reports arose regarding the quality of their meat and poultry. Investigators suggest that Shanghai Husi Foods, has been selling beef, chicken and pork beyond their expiration date, by repackaging them as freshly packaged products. This isn’t the first time OSI has found themselves in hot water, with similar allegations being brought forward regarding a U.S. based plant by a former employee.

    Shanghai Husi Foods - China

    Shanghai Husi Foods – China

    OSI is the major distributor of meats to large international corporations such as McDonalds, YUM! Brands Inc. (KFC/ Pizza Hut), and Starbucks Corporation.

    Considering that there are approximately 2000 McDonalds restaurants in China alone, serving thousands daily, the potential impact of this lapse in food safety, could be catastrophic. Michael B. Griffiths, a Shanghai –based qualitative research director at TNS China Co. fears that “this recall may spoil any remaining goodwill consumers have for fast –food restaurants.” According to distributors McDonalds restaurants in Hong Kong and Shanghai are serving a “limited menu” of fish burgers, having pulled Chicken McNuggets, the McSpicy Chicken Filet, and grilled chicken salads off the menu, as these products may contain expired and/ or contaminated meats.

    Although no illnesses have been reported, Yum! Brands Inc. will no longer do business with OSI in China, USA and Australia. A McDonalds spokes person also stated that the have stopped sourcing products from Shanghai Husi Foods. The company is in the process of conducting a thorough internal investigation into the possible failures that may have occurred.

    The consequences of meat production failures can be severe and are highly dependent on practices that occur at the processor, distributor, retail, and consumer levels. Failure at any level is unacceptable and can lead to significant economic and health consequences especially in foods with a limited shelf life.

    The date marking requirement is put in place and strictly enforced due to the potential of pathogenic organisms to grow at refrigerated temperatures including, Listeria monocytogenes and Yersinia enterocoloctica. Other microbiological contaminates include: Campylobacter spp., E.coli O157, VTEC, Salmonella , and BSE. These pathogenic bacteria can cause illness with symptoms including but not limited to: diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea, highlighting the importance that the date of expiration be accurate.

    Meat Safety Video

    According to the CDC, businesses should check for the following when receiving fresh meats:

    1. Check that the vehicle is clean and temperature controlled

    2. Check that the meat products are held at the appropriate temperature (41 degrees Fahrenheit)

    3. Reject deliveries if: there is evidence of temperature abuse, off odour or colour, or if meats have a slimy/ sticky texture

    OSI Group LLC, is a United States based company with 55 manufacturing plants in over 16 different countries. With the globalization of the food supply market, it is becoming increasingly prevalent for major corporations to obtain their products from outsourced processors and distributors. With this in mind, consumers and retailers must be cautious when purchasing meats and should only do so from trusted distributors. Furthermore, it is important to know WHERE in fact these products are coming from such that in case of an outbreak, measures are in place that, allow retailers to retrace their steps.

    The bottom line…

    Regardless of the date of expiration on these products, consumers (including those that are commercial) should ALWAYS check for signs of spoilage and take the appropriate measures to ensure that these products are discarded.

    For more information regarding Food Safety, feel free to check out:

    Works Cited
    Bora, K., International Business Times ( 2014).
    Bloomberg News. (2014)
    Centre for Disease Control. (2015). Food Safety Training.
    Center for Disease Control (2015). Fighting Bacteria
    Kansas State – Meat Safety Video (2015).
    Wang, S. (2015). Lecture 14 : Meat Safety. FNH 413 Food Safety

    • ColleenChong 5:55 pm on November 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Amereenj thank for sharing this scandal. It’s surprising how such a big company would do something like this, which not only caused a huge loss in profit for the company but most importantly their established reputation they once had is ruined. This topic is controversial and I think it is wrong that the company is repackaging meat and selling them as “fresh” products. It can cause issues such as bacterial/pathogenic growth since it is not monitored. Although meat products has been kept beyond their expired date I think the raw meat products should be tested to see if it is still safe. If it is then meat can be incorporated in ready-to-eat processing plants because they will be further treated by heat to reduce the wastage of food. However, the meat products should not be repackaged and placed back on to shelf without processing because the untreated meat may still pathogenic bacteria to grow if present. I the company needs to find the people who are responsible for this action and give an apology to the public.

    • TamaraRitchie 8:58 am on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Repackaging meat and selling it as fresh is ethically wrong. I do think that best before dates are put in place for consumers to safely consume meats without any chance of spoilage, therefore there are days after the best before date when meat is still safe to eat. I agree with Colleen that if meat still is safe it should be incorporated back into ready to eat products as they will been cooked properly at the processing plants. It seems like this could be an issue due to cost, companies like Mcdonalds etc are paying very little for their meat products in order to keep their cost down as well. Makes you wonder what other corners they may be cutting.

    • NorrisHuang 4:59 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I have heard about this before and I remember in addition to repacking the meat, there was also a video about how the staff in that company picked up meat which dropped onto the floor accidentally and put it back to the production line. They also ground up the defect products with the normal ones and sell them as one. And I believe repacking meat happened in Canadian supermarket (lobslaw) as well that staff in the supermarket dipped the meat in blood to make it look “fresh”. These news are horrible but I guess as consumers we have to always be on alert when purchasing and make smart choices. Stricter government regulations should also be in place.

    • elaine chan 1:57 am on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      What a scandal! With situations like this, it makes it harder for the general public to maintain trust on the food industry. I can see how it can be more cost efficient for the company to resell their meat like this; however, I don’t feel that it is ethical to do so, esp when the products are way past its expiration date. It’s fortunate for them that there hasn’t been any reported illnesses related to this incident, but as mentioned in the article, if the environmental conditions allowed pathogen growth, the situation could have gotten a lot more serious, impacting the health of many individuals. I think it is a good idea to reduce food waste, so like Colleen mentioned, if the product has been tested to ensure that it’s still safe for consumption, it is okay for resale, but not to be labelled as ‘fresh’, because realistically speaking, that’s a lie.

    • flyingsquirrel 10:54 am on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This actually makes me think of the grocery stores here in how they display their food. Although they don’t market their meat as ‘fresh’ like what this company did, does anyone notice that sometimes they hide the soon-to-expire meat in between fresh meat in the package? For example, I once went to buy ground beef and found that under the layers of new meat, I found browning meat that needed to be cooked quickly or else the whole package would spoil. It is technically not expired but this kind of practice is potentially risky. I understand that food waste and cost is a concern as food quality demand goes up, however it would be nice to be transparent and at least notify consumers and sell at a reduced price instead of manipulating information to sell expired goods for the sake of profit. In the long run, good trust (between consumers and companies) makes good business. It’s very unfortunate that this company has lost many big contracts and potential buyers. I hope this event will serve as a good wake up call to producers and buyers when it comes to deciding what gets put on the shelf for what price.

    • FeliciaYuwono 2:23 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Wow, what surprises me is that this probably a global phenomenon, if I could say it that way. I’m from Southeast Asia and when I first came here, I thought I could at least lay more trust on the system, but apparently I’m now just as worried as I was before. Just a few days ago, my friend showed me a video of CBC Marketplace about grocery stores cheating on expiry dates on bakery products and meat products, and it really suggests that some people only care about financial profits because there is no incentive on maintaining consumer safety (at least in the short run). The problem is that the way we live right now makes it inconvenient to not shop at grocery stores which provides one-stop-shopping for everything we need — so if you suspect that the meat you bought is tampered, the best way is to cook it thoroughly out of the danger zone temperature. Here is a helpful chart of meat cooking temperature from Health Canada:

      Here are some links if you’d like to read more:

    • Leigh Renwick 8:00 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is a great article; an important reminder that we should always approach buying meat with cation. Looking for signs of spoilage is important. Too often we take meat that we buy at restaurants for granted as being safe for consumption. I’m surprised that a company would think that they could get away with something like that! Truly despicable.

    • Anisha Parmar 9:20 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is so disgusting and I agree with so many of the comments above. This is ethically wrong and makes me think what other companies are doing this.

    • Tanzil Mulji 9:31 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This makes me curious about how many other companies in the meat industry are using similar practises. And also makes me want to consider never eating meat again.

    • Zeeshan Somji 9:46 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      What an insightful article! Really makes you reconsider all of the “food” we are putting into our bodies every day.

    • Jalila Devji 9:56 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      That’s really disappointing! You would hope that when you go to places like this the least you can expect is your food to be safe! I guess the best thing to do really is to be more mindful of what we’re eating and check for signs of spoilage ourselves. Thank for this great eye opening article!

    • Kiely Landrigan 10:36 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It is interesting to consider the food safe practices of large chain restaurants such as McDonalds and Starbucks. Is it more the responsibility of the manager of the branch (who often will be a relatively under trained staffer that has just been around long enough) or the corporation to ensure food safe practices? Good article to get you thinking!

    • Gurinder Cheema 1:05 am on December 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is a great article! It’s scary to think of this happening, especially since I normally wouldn’t think anything was wrong with food before its expiry date. It really makes you question how much you can trust our food industry. Thanks for bringing awareness to this scandal.

    • meggyli 12:16 am on December 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is a great article! China has always been popular, or in this case, unpopular for their reputation of producing and selling sub-par or even downright unsafe food items. As a Chinese I’m embarrassed to say this article just barely scratches the surface of the atrocities of what is going on over there, such as sewage oil, and pork that has been injected with water, to name a few. Judging by the population and the popularity of MacDonald’s and Starbucks in China, it’s a miracle that no sicknesses have been reported so far. This really makes us question what is really safe out there for consumption.

    • YaoWang 11:19 pm on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I knew about this scandal when I was in China for my summer break last year. Every day, I read about it in newspapers, watched about it on TV and heard people talking about it almost everywhere. Chinese people were really disappointed about this, we even tried to avoid dining out for some time because you never know if there are other companies doing the same thing without being caught. I just hope the government and the official media will look more into the food industry in China.

  • TamaraRitchie 10:34 am on November 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Ebola, , , , reservoir   

    Should we add Ebola to the List of Foodborne Pathogens? 

    In developed countries the threat of contracting Ebola from food sources is null, but in areas of Africa it is a real threat. Throughout late 2014 and early 2015, Ebola was widely publicized as the virus moved from Africa to the United States although Ebola has been a constant problem in Africa for years. 


    Ebola Virus

    Ebola is a virus that is generally spread by direct contact with body fluids or blood of an infected person, but in Africa it may also be spread while consuming, hunting or preparing Bushmeat. Bushmeat is an umbrella term that groups together meat from wild animals such as bats, antelope, rats, monkeys and other nonhuman primates.The main reservoir of the virus appears to be fruit bats. It is either through the consumption of fruit bats, or cross contamination between fruit bat droppings and other bushmeat animals that causes Ebola to be transmitted through food.

    Bushmeats are main sources of food for some and often seen a treat for others at markets and roadside stands. These types of meats are usually dried, salted or smoked in the open African heat alongside other butchered animals. This is a breeding ground for other bacteria and cross contamination can easily occur with other bacteria of concern such as E. Coli and Salmonella. The consequences of Ebola are high, one strain tied back to fruit bats in the Congo area found that 40% of infected patients died. Ebola causes hemorrhagic fever, headaches and can result in death. 

    Ebola can be destroyed by heating to 60 degree Celsius for 60 minutes or at higher temperatures of 72-80 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes according to the CDC. While heating Ebola has been found to inactivate and destroy the virus there is still the issue of cross contamination, as seen in the following picture the spaces used to cook and prepare the meat appear unhygienic and less than ideal. It is also difficult to know if the meats have been cooked to the proper temperatures as most would not have access to thermometers. The ones that are at highest risk of contracting the virus from animals are those who are hunting and gathering these animals as many are bitten or scratched or come in contact with blood during these processes.


    Varying smoked bushmeats at a market

    The likelihood of contracting the disease from human contact is much higher than from bushmeats. Hundreds of thousands of varying types of bushmeat are consumed annually throughout Africa and this will likely continue as it is a source of nutrition and part of their culture. It is recommended that steps be taken while hunting and gathering to reduce infection such as avoiding blood and fluids from animals, wearing gloves, not consuming predeceased animals and keeping raw foods away from cooked. These steps will not eradicate all cases of Ebola in Africa but it may help decrease the amount of outbreaks.

    If you would like to learn more please watch the video below.



    DRC: Bushmeat blamed for Ebola outbreak. (2012, August 23). Retrieved November 11, 2015, from

    Hogenboom, M. (2014, October 19). Ebola: Is bushmeat behind the outbreak? – BBC News. Retrieved November 11, 2015, from

    Information on the Survivability of the Ebola Virus in Medical Waste. (2015, February 12). Retrieved November 11, 2015, from

    MacNeil, A. (2010, December 1). Proportion of Deaths and Clinical Features in Bundibugyo Ebola Virus Infection, Uganda – Volume 16, Number 12-December 2010 – Emerging Infectious Disease journal – CDC. Retrieved November 11, 2015, from


    • kathykim 4:13 pm on November 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Tamara, I did not expect that ebola would be termed as a food-borne pathogen, but thinking about it, it is!. The main source of disease infection I heard from news was that Africans eat raw bat meats and drink their blood, and this is their cultural practice of diet. Also, when people die of ebola, Africans contact with the dead body which is also a part of their funeral culture.. I think such cultural factors have been risk factors for the transmission of ebola. I wonder though, why ebola has occured just recently, when such cultural practices were still done in the past.

    • laurenrappaport 1:28 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Its interesting to hear that the original source of Ebola is from animals. Over the past year or so, all we’ve been hearing about in the news is how infectious it is between humans ignoring the fact that the initial contamination is from something we may consume. Although these types of foods are not commonly consumed here in North America, with all the travel and trade it has become of major concern. Its funny that we have only recently started hearing about Ebola issues when this has been going on in Africa for many years. However, only recently when people in North America and Europe have become infected is when this issue has been brought to the news.

    • wen liao 3:53 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is an interesting article. This term I am taking a virology course and currently we are discussing about the Ebola virus (EBOV). Relating to this article, the 2014 EBOV epidemic is actually initiated due to the consumption of bats, as bats are asymptomatic of EBOV. Fortunately for us, vaccines are available now for EBOV (and it was initially designed by the National Microbiology Lab of Canada in Winnipeg. YEAHHHH). This vaccine is under review now and it has shown great efficacy against EBOV infection. Furthermore, this vaccine can be mass produced by engineering tobacco plants so that it can be produced on site in African.
      Personally, I do not think EBOV should be considered as a foodborne pathogen. Although the infection of native African population by EBOV is due to the consumption of bushmeat, bushmeat is not a common source of food for them. They eat it because they do not have other food choices.

    • angel519 5:15 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It is interesting to know that Ebola is originated from animal source. Places like Africa where most people live in poverty and food supply is limited, they have no choice but to eat Bushmeat which contains microbes or viruses that have never been encountered by the human population. Even though the source of the virus is identified, becasue of poverty and the brutal environment it is difficult to stop the people from hunting other bushmeat. And this might causes another outbreak of foodborne diease in the future due to the consumption of asymptomatic bushmeat.

    • CindyDai 6:34 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I was quite shocked to know Ebola can be considered as food pathogens. The horrifying Ebola outbreaks in Africa and America earlier this year did attract a lot of public attention, and not many news mentioned how to prevent Ebola at household level. It is good to know that Ebola can be destroyed by heating, which means it shares the same food safety practice with many other foodborne pathogens. We should always be prepared to fight with foodborne pathogens and be aware of the horrible consequence of incorrect food handling.

    • Stephanie Chen 7:28 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      As Ebola is generally known to spread through direct contact with infected blood and body fluids, it is quite interesting that it can be regarded as a food-borne pathogen. Through the image and the video, it can really be seen that there is immense potential for contamination through the various steps of preparation, cooking, and consumption of bushmeats. While the virus can be eliminated through heat processing of the food, it may be still be a great challenge to regulate hunting and gathering practices to reduce risk of outbreaks.

    • EmilyLi 5:01 pm on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is a very interesting post. It change the mainstream view that Ebola virus is transmitted by human infected blood and body fluid. The fact that the Ebola virus can be destroyed by heat is a wonderful fact to know and hopefully this fact would be helpful in preparing the bushmeats. However, in area such as Africa there may not be enough resources to implement regulations that the hunters, gathers, and street vendors to follow to reduce and prevent the outbreaks.

    • Carissa Li 12:49 am on December 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Ebola as a foodborne pathogen really caught my eyes to this post! I never thought it could be transmitted through food since the news only emphasize on direct contact with blood. The fact that how they are selling the bushmeats in the market of course is the main reason for cross contamination but i think the utensils they use to prepare the meat is also one of the reasons for cross contamination. I think the reason why Ebola is that savage is also due to people consuming bushmeats on a daily basis. In this case, Ebola can be spread widely in Africa.

    • mustafa akhtar 12:15 am on December 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I remember back in 2014 when we first heard about the ebola outbreak, and this catalysed the kicking in of many survellience agencies across the globe. Your view is that the cultural practises in Africa may help spread Ebola, but other countries that don’t sell bush meet or don’t have customary funeral practises, still seem to have been concerned for the spread of outbreak. Is ebola as viable outside Africa?

  • HelenMa 4:39 pm on November 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    New Standards for Produce Safety in US Passed 

    The United States Food and Drug administration has finalized the Food Safety Modernization Act as of the mid November 2015. This is a list of standards for growing, harvesting, packing and holding of produce for human consumption for domestic farms that grow produce for human consumption. It regulates the production as well importation of produce in the U.S. It is designed to prevent foodborne illnesses caused by tainted produce that affect millions of American every year. The CDC estimates that plants account for approximately 40% (23,500 cases) of annual hospitalization and 25% of annual deaths (363 cases) due to domestically acquired food borne illnesses.
    In the released documents from the FDA, the agency establishes “Science based minimum standard for safe growing, harvesting, packaging and hold of produce, meaning fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption.”

    The final rule focuses on six major routes of contamination:
    1. Worker training and health and hygiene
    – Prevent contamination of produce and food contact surfaces by infected person
    2. Agricultural water
    – To ensure water quality used for produce
    – Establishes 2 sets of criteria for microbial water quality
    – Both are based on presence of generic E. coli
    – Testing – untreated surface water & ground water
    3. Biological soil amendments
    – Raw manure – sets recommended interval between harvesting manure and application
    – Stabilized compost
    – Microbial standards – set limits on detectable amount of bacteria
    4. Domesticated and wild animals
    – For animals that may graze on or near land that produce produce for consumption.
    -Farmers are required to take all measures reasonably necessary to identify and not harvest produce that is likely to be contaminated
    5. Sprouts
    – Have been major source of foodborne illness between 1996-2014
    -43 outbreaks – 2,405 illnesses and 171 hospitalizations
    -3 deaths
    – Include first documented outbreak of listeria monocytogenes associated with sprouts in the US
    – Frequently contaminated
    – Prevent the introduction of dangerous microbes into/onto seeds/beans used for sprouting
    – Testing water/environment
    6. Equipment, tools and buildings
    – Establish standards – prevent sources and inadequate sanitation from contaminating produce

    The majority of farms are required to comply with the standards in two years.
    Final rule were also passed on foreign supplier verification programs (FSVP) for importers of food for humans and animals. Importers are required to ensure that the food imported to the US has been produced in a manner that meets US safety standards through hazard analysis. Hazard analysis requires the importer to identify and evaluated reasonably foreseeable hazards for each type of food it imports and determine any hazard that require control.
    The hazards are:
    1. Biological – parasites & disease causing bacteria
    2. Chemical – pesticides & drug residues
    3. physical – glass


    • BarbaraCorreiaFaustino 12:13 pm on December 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      That was an interesting article! I wonder if those new regulations will decrease the number of foodborne illness outbreaks related to produce, and I hope that this solution actually works. Even though the results are only going to appear in two years, after all the farmers comply with these new standards, I hope that by then there will be less produce outbreaks, especially related to sprouts.

    • Carissa Li 1:06 am on December 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I would say this is a pretty complete regulation as in preventing foodborne pathogen outbreak. This is because it covers almost all of the transmission routes that pathogen can take to contaminate people. It is quite interesting to hear that sprout actually account for the most foodborne illnesses since I never think of it to be that harmful. I think the reason behind it is that bacteria on the sprout are usually harder to destroy by thermal processing (cooking). Therefore, regulation on sprouts is very important on preventing any outbreaks. Hope this updated standards can really improve the surveillance on produce and outbreak number will diminish!

    • YaoWang 11:05 pm on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I think it’s a good idea for the government to establish such acts to ensure food safety. From previous week’s posts we realize that fresh produces are usually very vulnerable to varies food-borne pathogens. Therefore, it is the government’s responsibility to introduce such regulations to the country. At the same time, I’m wondering to what degree will these acts decrease the number of food-borne illnesses in the states.

  • ayra casuga 1:18 pm on November 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , coriander, , shigella, Sweden,   

    Southeast Asian Imported Coriander had caused 40 cases of Shigellosis in Sweden 


    In late October 2015, Southeast Asian imported coriander has caused an outbreak of Shigellosis in Sweden. The severity of this outbreak had caused forty reported illnesses in three areas (twenty-nine from Vastra Gotaland, ten from Skane, and three from Halland). There was the same proportion of adult male and female who had fallen ill and no reported deaths.

    Shigellosis is an acute bacterial infection caused by a group of Shigella bacteria. It is linked with “poor sanitation, contaminated food and water, and crowded living conditions”(Vyas, et al., 2014). Some symptoms include acute abdominal cramping, fever, bloody stools, watery diarrhea, and nausea (Vyas, et al., 2014). The severity of Shigellosis is mild as healthy individuals are able to surpass this illness with no chronic issues. However, the severity increases for malnourished children and immune-compromised individuals.

    Coriander is a type of herb commonly used to complement a variety of foods and recipes as it adds a spicy flavor component that many find appealing. Therefore, it is commonly found in restaurant dishes where, in this case, has been the likely source of the illnesses reported in Vastra Gotaland and Skane. The Public Health Agency of Sweden had interviewed the people who were sick as part of their outbreak investigation and had found that there was a connection between different restaurants.

    In addition to interviewing those who were sick, the Public Health agency of Sweden used “Whole-Genome Sequencing of the Shigella bacteria from the people who fell ill after visiting different restaurants” (Whitworth, 2015). Whole-genome sequencing is a type of molecular subtyping method used to reveal the complete genome of an organism in order to identify pathogens isolated from food samples (FDA, 2015). First, a sample is taken from a patient and is then cultivated in order to isolate bacterial DNA. After, the bacterial DNA found in the specimen becomes processed using an automated bench-top sequencing system. In other words, the bacterial DNA becomes processed in order to determine the order of nucleotides within its genome. Finally, this information can then be analyzed and compared to central data storage of known DNA bacterial sequences, in this case is the Shigella bacteria (Wang, Lecture Slide 18, 2015).

    As a result from implementing a whole genome sequencing method, the Public Health Agency of Sweden did not detect the Shigella bacteria in any samples that were taken. Although the samples taken of the people ill showed close to identical bacterial strains, which suggests that their illness had most likely came from a common source. In addition, the coriander could not have been analyzed as it had disappeared from the marketplace before the outbreak became known. However, upon interviewing the people who were ill, it has been determined that coriander had been a common denominator found in the restaurant meals. This analysis has leaded the Public Health Agency of Sweden to conclude that the source of illness is the imported coriander from Southeast Asia.

    This outbreak is a great example of the level of difficulty it is to find the cause of an outbreak when the cause is most likely an ingredient in a meal. Because the whole-genome sequencing indicate negative results for the presence of Shigellosis raises a lot of questions for the conclusions made by the Public Health Agency of Sweden. However, through their findings it is highly likely that the cause of the outbreak is from the coriander, but it is yet to be determined whether the illness is, indeed, Shigellosis. In order to ensure that similar outbreaks like this do not occur again, more stringent policies can be implemented to ensure that imported produce has come from the cleanest foreign companies.

    Discussion Question: From what we have learned in class about the outbreak investigation method in Canada, would you agree with the Public Health Agency of Sweden to conclude that the source of illness had come from the Coriander? If not, what methods could they have further done to accurately determine the source of the Shigellosis bacteria?

    References –
    Witworth, J. (2015, November 25). Shigella outbreak traced to imported coriander. Retrieved November 26, 2015, from

    Wang, S. (2015). Lecture Slide 18: Molecular Subtyping. FNH 413 Food Safety

    Vyas, M. (2014, May 12). Shigellosis. Medline Plus. Retrieved November 26, 2015, from

    FDA (2015, March 5). Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) Program. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Retrieved November 26, 2015, from

    • Michelle Ebtia 12:16 pm on November 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      The conclusion made by the Public Health Agency of Sweden seems to me to be based on guesswork rather than hard data. The article reports that analysis of the coriander samples showed no positive results for the pathogen, however the outbreak was still attributed to that same batch of produce! This reminds me of the case with Spanish cucumber and fenugreek seeds from Egypt that was discussed in class.
      I think more investigation is needed to attribute the illness to one specific food, based on scientific findings. If no evidence emerges, then the case could be reported as unresolved, similar to numerous outbreaks in Canada.
      It is also very interesting to know that despite using the most comprehensive and advanced method available (Whole Genome Sequencing), these complications may arise in practice!

    • csontani 9:45 am on November 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      That would be so hard for the company who exported to products cause they might be exporting products to many other countries and might forced them to recall the products and the outbreak might not even be because of their products. But the Public Health Agency of Sweden should have make another hypotheses because their data results did not supported their original hypotheses and shouldn’t conclude their investigation based on guesses. That would not be fair for the company who exported the coriander.

    • NorrisHuang 4:14 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I wonder why the Public Health Agency of Sweden used whole genome sequencing as their first and only investigation method though, because WGS is the most expensive one. Since WGS is the one with highest discriminatory power, I think instead of using new methods, the agency can test for more samples and see if they were able to find positive samples. If not, then probably coriander is not the real cause of food-borne illnesses?

    • angel519 5:28 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I like how your blog links to the process outbreak investigation that we’ve learnt in class. I personally think that the Public Health Agency of Sweden should not conclude that the coriander originated from South East Asia is the source of the outbreak. This is because no samples of the coriander were tests, which means they have no evidence to suggest that the coriander contains the strains of Shigella that matches with the infected patients. However, as mentioned in the blog, the suspect coriander can no longer be found in the market. From this I’ve learnt that it is a struggle that a real outbreak investigation could encounter.

    • MarinaMoon 1:53 pm on December 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I agree with above comment that the Public Health Agency of Sweden should not have concluded the outbreak of coriander to be originated from South East Asia. Although it is a very likely source of the outbreak, without enough data to evidently state the outbreak cause, it should not have confirmed its case. If it wasn’t from the coriander from South East Asia, it will put the farmers into extra steps and cost that were not necessary if the investigation included further research. Also, this would put the farmers of South East Asia with bad reputation which they are not responsible for. From the article, I realized how it is very hard to trace back food sources for contamination and that preventing it from happening in the first place is the best strategy.

  • cheryl lau 8:29 pm on November 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Eastern Canada, , Potatoes, ,   

    Case of Food Terrorism? Metal Needles and Nails Found in Potatoes in Atlantic Canada 

    Metal Needles Found In Russet Potatoes

    Metal Needles Found In Russet Potatoes

    Eastern Canada —Earlier this year in May, an employee of a grocery store found something suspicious as he was stocking bags of potatoes. To his horror, he discovered metal sewing needles and metal nails had been deliberately inserted into the potatoes. Unfortunately, the residents of Eastern Canada were no strangers to such observations. In October of the previous year, there were several reported cases of sewing needles found in potatoes as well. This incident prompted relevant farms and the federal government to reevaluate their current food safety protocols and to determine if the existing equipment used for detection are adequate to uphold the standards for consumers’ safety.

    October 2014 —Metal needles were found in potatoes by customers, which were traced back to farms on Prince Edward Island. After a period of investigation, it was found that these potatoes had most likely originated from Linkletter Farms in Summerside, PEI. The CFIA has been working with the RCMP to find the culprit responsible for this horrible crime, but so far there have been no promising leads. Luckily, there were no reports of illness or injury.

    After the first incident in the fall, Prince Edward Island had already increased the sensitivity of its food safety measures to detect metal pieces. However, shortly after they implemented these procedures, they found more sewing needles in their facility in December of 2014. Fortunately, the tampered foods were discovered prior to distribution, so no recall was required for this time.

    May 2015 — Loblaws voluntarily recalled Russet potatoes belonging to Famer’s Market Brand and Strang’s Produce after an employee noticed needles in the tampered products. These products have been distributed to several stores within the company and they have since then recalled the potatoes from their shelves. However, this problem which was thought to be halted and contained in Prince Edward Island earlier this year, has now dispersed to Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. The similarities of this food safety incident and the ones from late last year has brought more concerns to the involved parties. Fortunately, the metal materials were found before anyone got seriously sick or injured.
    Determined to find the culprit, Prince Edward Island’s potato industry has increased the reward for any information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for this heinous crime. From the previous $100,000, the reward increased to $500,000. Furthermore, the RCMP has released information stating that the tampered potatoes did not originate from the farm involved in the October incident.

    The repercussions of this incident has shown in the decrease of the public’s confidence in potatoes. The Canadian government realized that this is a disaster to the agricultural businesses in Atlantic Canada. They helped by providing $2 million in an effort to aid those farmers who have been devastated during this food terrorism act. The government also thought it was worthwhile to allocate funds to install new metal detection equipment to prevent such threats from occurring in the future.

    At this point, these cases still have not been solved.

    Personally, after following this story, I too have lost a bit of confidence in the safety of Canada’s food supply.

    Even though these tampered potatoes have not reached Western Canada, knowing that these dangerous metal pieces made it into stores intact, how do you feel about the safety of the foods we eat?


    October 2014

    May 2015

    • Mandy Tam 9:44 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I know a lot of companies installed metal detector in their food plants. They also make metal detector as one of the critical control point. In my experience in food plant though, what on paper and what actually happen might be different. This is why GMP is such a hard thing to implement in the food plant. A lot of production workers often ignore the warning signal of the metal detector, never hold the product, and never inform the HACCP team on what happen. I think most of the time, supervisors often emphasis speed over safety, therefore, workers have the pressure to finish all the orders in that day and result in such behaviors. Better surveillance within the plant should be implemented so companies will not ignore safety for money. Also, companies should emphasis more on training workers on the knowledge of food safety so they will be more aware of it.

    • elaine chan 12:37 am on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Definitely a very different and interesting article! I agree with Mandy’s point above, of how better surveillance, such has incorporating metal detectors into their production process can help better prevent such incidents from happening. However, oddly enough, as mentioned in the article, even after more strict metal detection systems were implemented into the production area, needles were still found after distribution! This, I find it particularly strange. It’s a good thing that these needles are able to be seen by the naked human eye, so that when a worker at the grocery store or a customer picks up the potato, they can see that it’s been damaged and know that it’s not safe for consumption. But I do worry, what if later on, it’s something else that’s placed inside a produce that cannot be readily seen by the human eye? Would implementing metal detectors at the level of supermarkets be helpful? This whole situation does seem a little funny to me though, because someone out there is actually taking the time to sneak around and deliberately place sewing needles into different potatoes. They must really have a lot of time to waste!

    • shinnie 4:37 pm on December 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Can you imagine biting into a potato and finding out there is a needle in there? Ouch. I agree with Elaine, it is fascinating to learn that people would deliberately adulterate produce by inserting needles and nails (I will never understand them). I don’t think this kind of situations can be prevented at all– I mean if someone deliberately (key word is deliberately) tries to contaminate a farm full of produce with a pathogen (not metal nails/needles in this case), who is going to stop them? Personally, I believe it is more important to add security to the farm boundaries (i.e gates, password/key locks) rather than implementing changes to the production process system itself (actually, I think there are already steps implemented in food processing to control biological/chemical/physical hazards). As Mandy and Elaine have mentioned, surveillance cameras are very helpful, or maybe security guards as well? I feel that only people with authority can access the farm and if anything happens to the produce that is due to adulteration, they can hold certain people responsible. I am also thinking, nails and needles can be inserted into all kind of roots, including carrots, lettuce, radish……

    • RainShen 9:39 pm on December 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It is very scared to know that metal needles can be found in the food products… When I worked in a bakery plant, every production line has a metal detector to check every box and ensure they are all metal-free before they go to the market. I wonder if those plants do have metal detectors on-site or not. If it’s food terrorism, it is more scared! I think the only way to lower the incidents is to set up metal detectors in the farm or plant for the final products, but it is hard to say after the products have been distributed. What customers can do might be checking the food products carefully before cooking and consuming. I may keep my eyes on the fresh produces from now on.

    • JorgeMadrigalPons 10:25 pm on December 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting title and article! It is surprising that this was not detected before in the farm-to-fork food chain. It is alarming and concerning that this kind of contaminations occur. The corresponding parties should take preventive actions to avoid this in the future. Like stated in the article, it makes people loose their confidence on consuming products.

    • CindyDai 12:38 am on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It is very interesting to know that, in addition to biological hazards, physical hazards caused by hazardous extraneous material also count for a large portion of “food terrorism”. Compared to foodborne pathogens, extraneous material could be more easily identified and eliminated by food manufacturers from food products. Metal detectors should always be implemented as one of the final steps in food processing plants to prevent possible metal pieces due to equipment damage. It requires everyone’s effort to fight against the “food terrorism”.

    • EmilyChow 2:41 am on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I can’t believe someone would deliberately tamper with produce of all things. We often purchase food from the supermarket with the belief that the food has been properly inspected and had completed safety processing and tests, but we do not really consider what could happen to the food between the time of processing to the time it reaches the supermarket. Perhaps there should be another processing or screening procedure before the items are placed on supermarket shelves to further ensure the safety of the products?

    • DeniseZhang 7:20 pm on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I actually have experienced this personally. That was a Korean restaurant, I ordered hot-stone rice then I found a small piece metal “net” (which I believe was part of the tap filter) in rice. I was so disappointed, because I liked that restaurant so much. Thankfully I did not eat that spoon of rice without looking at it that day. Even though they apologized and served me a new dish, but my mood of eating was ruined :(. I do wish I will never experience that again, finding a hair in food is even more acceptable than finding a thing that might hurt or kill me.

    • MichelleLui 8:14 pm on December 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Many farms lack security control over their premises which leads to food tampering. Farms and facilities should put in security measures such as preventing unauthorized entry to secure area, verifying background checks on employees and enforcing visitors’ policies. They should also put in adequate physical security such as fences, gates, good lighting and video surveillance cameras.

  • Susanna Ko 11:17 pm on November 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: barfblog, , , , ,   

    Recall of Potato Products Due To Small Metal Fragments 

    From May 8th to May 12th, several large UK retailers issued a recall for over 50 potato salads, coleslaws, and ready-to-eat meals. Retailers affected included Sainsbury, Waitrose, Morrison’s and Tesco. To give you a scale of the impact of this recall, Sainsbury is UK’s second largest retailer, and Tesco is one of the world’s biggest retailers. The recall affected multiple brands of the nationwide retailers, and is found in over 43 ready-to-eat savoury pies and quick meals, and at least 6 potato salads.

    The cause of the recall? Small pieces of metal were found in the potato products, and originated from a single supplier. Further investigation identified that a piece of the equipment broke during processing, resulting in metal fragments possibly being dislodged.

    To give you an idea of how scary this is, here is a picture of an affected product:

    Look familiar? You may have grabbed something similar to this to eat on the go from the grocery store. The products affected by this recall are ready-to-eat convenient meals. People choose this product as a quick and easy meal option. I know that I eat quick meals while I multitask with homework, and I may not be paying attention to what is hidden inside of it. Plus, convenient pre-packaged potato salads could be a popular item to bring to family potlucks or work lunches…. kind of scary, isn’t it?

    But they’re just small metal fragments, what’s the worst that can happen? Well, further explanation of the risks associated with the metal pieces could not be found on the UK Food Standards Agency or in the recall notice. Which is a shame, because somebody could swallow the fragment and mistakenly believe it to contribute to their daily intake of minerals. Small metal fragments can cause lacerations and internal injuries to the mouth, gastrointestinal system, and internal organs. Ouch!

    An article from Food Safety Magazine stated that metal fragments are considered as “hazardous extraneous material” under Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (or HACCP for short). We all know just how important HACCP is in the prevention of food safety hazards. But why wasn’t metal detection a critical control point during the processing of the potatoes? Not to be critical or anything, but isn’t preventative maintenance part of a certain prerequisite program of HACCP?

    I know what I’m going to be more careful with now. A news article from Daily Mail (which is a popular UK online magazine) reported that product was still found on the shelves of Tesco during the weekend. The recall was announced on a Friday. Seems like there was some mis-communication.

    Or do what the comments say (in the Daily Mail news article) and just make your own potato salad.

    Daily Mail. 2015. Still on Tesco’s Shelves… potato salads recalled in metal fragments Scare: Safety row erupts as food containing stainless steel is left for customers to buy after warnings of recall are missed. Available from Accessed 2015 November 25.

    Food Standards Agency. 2015. Potato Products Recall. Available from Accessed 2015 November 25.

    Food Safety Magazine. 2003. The Dirty Dozen: Ways to Reduce the 12 Biggest Foreign Materials Problems. Available from Accessed 2015 November 25.

    • wen liao 3:52 pm on November 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      HAHA I like the last sentence, which usually solves most of the problems. As it is in most of the cases, we learn from the mistakes. I wonder what caused the metals to remain in prepared food. I am wondering about the side effects of ingesting these small metal fragments. In addition, as there is no metal detector available for potato products processing line, how did they find out the metals in the first place?

    • laurenrappaport 1:46 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Great article Susanna! It was a very interesting read but also very concerning. I lived in the UK for 6 months, and shopped at some of the mentioned grocery stores all the time! Its especially concerning as some of these food products are given to kids for lunches or snacks and they are less likely to identify the metal fragments in their foods. Metal detection during production should be implemented to ensure this sort of issue does not happen again. In addition, equipment maintenance should be a key part of the quality assurance program which would have prevented this issue in the first place.

    • dgozali 3:43 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I like how you related this to what we learned in FNH 403 about the HACCP plans and CCPS. this shows the importance of having a good HACCP plan in place as any step that was overlooked can cause a really big impact if something goes wrong. There was probably no metal detection system in place to check the final product, or maybe the metal detector was faulty and was not fixed by the employees.

    • Silvia Low 3:36 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is disturbing. What affects me the most is that the metal fragments were found in children’s food. I feel that anything that goes near children should be handled with extra care and be more diligently inspected prior to distribution just because these are children! But it is nice to hear that no one was harmed (for now at least).

    • cvalencia 5:17 pm on December 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      What an eye opener! I wonder how they detected the small metals inside the packages though? was it because someone actually tasted it or saw it when they opened the product? It is also very dangerous to the consumer, and to think that it is also marketed more towards the kids, rather than the adults, is even more concerning. This company definitely needs to re-evaluate their food processes in their facility to ensure that nothing like this happens again.

    • meggyli 11:56 pm on December 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This article is very much like the frozen pizza assignment some of us did for FNH 403 as a way too look at successful HACCP Programs and the hazards involved in food production. There may have been many ways in which the metal fragments remained in the final packaged and distributed products, for example, the metal detection wand was broken at the food plant, or it was the result of a careless quality control practitioner. Either way, I think the company needs to revisit their HACCP Plan and find the cause of the problem ASAP. This also goes to show that these things really do happen in the real world, and it is also important for consumers to properly check their shopping cart before purchasing, and to properly check their food containers before consuming.

    • AngeliMalimban 10:00 pm on December 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Very interesting stuff Susanna! Like Lauren said, this stuff is given to kids, especially since potato salad is very soft and easy to swallow/digest for kids. I noticed that whenever my aunts or uncles give food to my little cousins, they always chop it up for them to prevent them from making a mess by cutting it themselves. That would probably be a great way to detect huge metal fragments in food… but since this is potato salad, that is not the case. And as for HACCP – I agree with Meggy and I hope that they actually do revisit their HACCP plan to find out who or what could be responsible in this case. This goes to show that even with HACCP in place, there are still such little things that can go unnoticed…

    • Ya Gao 10:42 pm on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I read the label in the article carefully and saw it is a kid’s meal. The recall is especially important for vulnerable people like kids. They are less likely to notice those hazardous extraneous material when they are eating and ingesting small metal fragment can cause fatal consequence. Since this recall is a huge one. I believe this supplier to be huge as well with massive production every day. It is curtail for a HACCP plan to be in place and actually work. A metal detector is definitely a CCP that the company needs to work on immediately.

  • Jasmine Lee 1:00 am on November 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Product Recall due to Undeclared Allergens 

    Product recalled due to undeclared allergens (CFIA, 2015)

    Mustard, sesame, soy and wheat not declared on label. (CFIA, 2015)

    Early this year on January 19th, the Canadian Federal Inspection Agency (CFIA) issued a notice to recall Mann’s Mediterranean Style snap peas due to not declaring the presence of allergens, specifically mustard, sesame, soy and wheat in the toppings and dressing. The allergens were first identified by the manufacturer and they had immediately halted distribution to their exclusive Walmart and Sobeys retailers across Canada. Fortunately, there had not been any reported hospitalizations or deaths, but individuals with hypersensitivities were advised to dispose or return the product to the retailer. Given that the best before date was January 25th, remaining products should have reached the end of its shelf life by the end of the week.

    Mechanism and Characteristics of Food Allergies

    Food allergy is a health concern that should not be overlooked. According to Soller et al.’s cross-sectional study (2012), adverse reactions to one or more allergens were self-reported by 6.67% of Canadians. Unfortunately, these numbers are expected to increase (Hengel, 2007).

    Food allergies are classified as a category of hypersensitivity where the immune response recognizes and abnormally believes the offending food or component to be harmful. The mechanism of an allergic response commences when the ingested allergen, which is typically a protein, crosses the intestinal barrier to the bloodstream and is recognized by circulating lymphocytes or white blood cells. These immune cells trigger the release of IgE antibodies that bind to mast cells. Through antibody-receptor interactions, inflammatory mediators, i.e. histamine, will be secreted to the surrounding tissues and result in adverse symptoms involving the skin, gastrointestinal, respiratory and/or cardiovascular systems. Initial exposure to the allergen is usually asymptomatic, but subsequent exposures may result in a quicker and more severe response. This is because some IgE-coated mast cells are already present and bind immediately to the same antigens to release histamine. Allergic symptoms may appear immediately after a few minutes or can be delayed up to 24 hours. They can be mild and localized to one or more body systems, such as nausea and vomiting from the gastrointestinal system. Alternatively, symptoms may progress in severity to affect all body systems, resulting in anaphylaxis or death. (Taylor, 2006)

    Fact or Myth: Consuming processed foods reduce the risk of developing allergenic reactions.

    Adding to the complexity of allergies, food processing will interfere with the allergenic capacity. IgE antibodies tend to bind well to a particular region on antigens, known as epitopes. These may be linear amino acid chains or 3D conformational structures. The binding affinity of IgE antibodies may be reduced during processing. For instance, high heat denatures the 3D conformation and fermentation cleaves the amino acid sequences. At the same time, allergenic capacity may be promoted as some epitopes are no longer hidden by the protein’s 3D conformation and can bind to IgE. Additional structures and IgE binding sites may be created from protein and peptide modifications during processing. Overall, further studies are necessary to develop a clearer answer for processed foods. (Hengel, 2007).

    Prevention Strategies

    Given the importance of allergens and potentially life-threatening consequences, CFIA is enforcing mandatory labelling for the top 10 allergens: wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, sulphites, eggs, seafood, mustard, milk and sesame. Food manufacturers also need to take precautionary measures to avoid cross-contamination at the plant and practice proper product labeling. Consumers should periodically review the list of product recalls on the CFIA’s webpage. While there are currently no approved treatments, individuals with severe allergies should follow a strict diet and carry an EpiPen in case of a sudden reaction. Overall, prevention and awareness are pertinent to reducing food allergies.

    What are your thoughts on the prevalence of food allergies? Do you think processed foods may be associated with the upward trend of food allergies?

    Check out the following references and video (particularly about unpasteurized milk from times 14:40-15:13 and parasitic worms on allergies from times 23:09-25:44).


    CFIA. (2015). Food Recall Warning (Allergen) – Mann’s brand Mediterranean Style Snap Pea Sensations recalled due to undeclared mustard, sesame, soy and wheat. Retrieved from

    Health Canada. (2012). Food Allergies and Intolerances. Retrieved from

    Hengel, A. J. (2007). Food allergen detection methods and the challenge to protect food-allergic consumers. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 389(1):111-118.

    Soller, L., Ben-Shoshan, M., Harrington, D. W., Fragapane, J., Joseph, L., St. Pierre, Y., Godefroy, S. B., La Vieille, S., Elliott, S. J. & Clarke, A. E. (2012). Overall prevalence of self-reported food allergy in Canada. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 130(4):986:988.

    Taylor, S. (2006). The nature of food allergy. In S. J. Koppelman & S. L. Hefle (Eds.), Detecting Allergens in Food (pp.3-20). Boca Raton, FL:Woodhead Publishing Limited, Boca Raton.

    • ColleenChong 12:03 pm on November 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Jasmine, I really like how you were able to incorporate the topic of allergens into to your blog. Allergens are a major source of recalls, specifically undeclared allergens. It is good to see how proactive CFIA is with recall and was done so before anyone in the public was affected. It seems like food allergy seems to be increasing but It might be the fact that there’s better technology to help detect the cause of allergy in individuals. The list of allergens seems to be slowly growing, which may also increase the number of individuals who may have allergens. I think processed foods is associated with an upward trend of food allergies because many companies that process allergens may also use the same equipment to process foods without allergens. The residual allergen may be transferred into the second process. To prevent this properly cleaning and sanitation is essential. But the best solution would be having one process line with allergen containing food and the other one without.

    • TamaraRitchie 9:35 am on November 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It is nice to see the CFIA being so quick to get this product off the shelves. I feel with a product such as snap peas, many people would not assume there would be any allergens in the product. As we learned in class and as you explained above allergic reactions can be very severe and lead to death. It is just as important for the CFIA to be on top of allergen recalls as it is for food borne illnesses. Both types of illness can be extremely harmful to the public. Overall I hope in the future we can have more research on what is causing the upswing of allergens. I am very curious as to what is causing it, it may be an increased in processed foods or it may be something we have not even thought of yet. I would not be surprised if the increase of processed foods were in some way contributing to the increase in allergens.

    • catherine wong 3:32 am on November 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Since allergens can cause such severe illnesses or death as Jasmine mentioned above, it is kind of reassuring to know that CFIA is working hard and efficiently in taking products with undeclared allergens off of store shelves. I actually wonder how they found out about the undeclared allergens. Did the producer test their products for allergens or did they look over their production records for that day and found that they did not clean their equipment between switching from producing a product with allergen to a product without that allergen? I do agree with Colleen that during production, having one process line just for the allergen would be the best to reduce contamination. Even though a designated allergen line would cost money and not all processing plants can afford that which is why the cleaning process is so important for them. With all the undeclared allergen recalls that CFIA always has on their website, I feel that a designated allergen line in plants might be worth it because undeclared allergens is a very serious matter.

    • Stephanie Chen 6:57 pm on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      As the incidence of food allergies seems to be on the rise, particularly in children, it is critical for allergen labelling to be strictly enforced. I feel that a designated allergen line could still have potential cross contamination within a plant. We often see products with labels such as “may contain [allergen]” or “processed in a plant that also uses [allergen].” It may be in the best interest of those with known allergies to avoid these foods altogether (though snap peas may come as a surprise). On another note, it is really interesting that you presented the fact of myth concerning the potential link between processed foods and allergy development. I also wonder what factors could be associated with the increase of allergens, whether genetically, environmentally, or even due to the changes in the foods we eat?

    • EmilyLi 2:19 pm on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      In my opinion this is a very informative post. It is great to know that CFIA is so quick and efficient with the issuing the recall. Allergen in food had been a concern especially for parents with severe allergic children. I think that it’s great that the CFIA is strict on the labeling to ensure consumers health safety. However the factor we may need to bring to attention is the genetically modified foods. Genetically modified food consist of genetic material that wasn’t originally found in the food. This may alter the different protein that a certain food product can contain thus initiating a allergic reaction. I wonder how we could put a standard or have a regulations for this kind of foods.

    • flyingsquirrel 3:59 pm on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting how you brought up that processing the foods may render them less likely to cause allergic reactions through changing protein composition (through processes such as heat etc.). This would explain why some people are able to eat certain foods they are normally allergic to as long as it is deep fried. One hypothesis at the moment as for why there seems to be a higher number of people allergic to foods may be due to over protection. This idea comes from the increasing amount of mothers keeping their children from being exposed to said products at an early age (thus not allowing them to build better immunological systems that can tolerate the food proteins). Therefore popular foods associated with allergies in certain demographic areas (ex. peanuts in the west) will be avoided most often, this may end up bringing adverse effects and perpetuate the development of food allergy that one is trying to avoid. I don’t know how true this idea is, but it makes you re-think what to give children to eat.

    • KristinaRichmond 8:17 pm on December 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Great article! I also found it interesting how processing can change the allergenic potential of food. I think this would be a good area for further research since food allergies can be so severe and life-threatening, and it’s easy to get accidentally exposed if you’re not the cook or really diligent about reading labels. I think one problem with processed foods is that they can be quite complex and contain many different (and sometimes unusual) ingredients, so I think it’s good that the CFIA enforces labelling for the top 10 allergens.

    • RainShen 9:03 pm on December 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      As we learned in this course, food allergy would be fetal sometimes, so it is very critical to state all the allergens in the food product, especially for those highly processed foods. Sometimes the ingredients in the dressing or sauce, or even contacting with other foods in the same production environment will cause food allergy for the consumers. Comparing to food safety, food allergy does not have very strict rules for the manufacturers to state every allergen that might be possible contained in the products so sometimes it might be a big concern for costumers, especially for children and infants. Since food allergy is not dose related, even a very small amount of the allergen may cause very severe results. However, according to your post, CFIA recalled the suspected products before any hospitalizations or deaths happen. In my opinion the food inspection of CFIA is very sufficient in this way.

    • yichen25 1:47 am on December 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Food allergy is very prevalent to those who are not able to develop a clinical tolerance towards the food protein that has been ingested. Failure to develop a clinical tolerance will lead to a series of hypersensitivity reactions which can be be potentially life-threatening if not treated immediately. Besides, the application of food processing as mentioned above has the ability to interfere with the binding of the antibodies to the antigens. However, more research should be done to further confirm the effect of food processing in the allergenic capacity. As for now, I personally think that both labeling of the food allergens and listing out the ingredients in the food product are very effective to inform consumers on the presence of allergenic compounds in the food product.

    • WinnieLiao 7:45 pm on December 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      As learnt in other courses as well as in this course, allergens indeed can induce many severe or fatal issues and contamination of these foods with allergens would definitely require a recall. Thankfully in Canada CFIA is quick to react and is helpful in facilitating recall of these food items. The consequences of food allergic reactions can range from mild to severe; I’ve seen red spots and rashes developing on people’s skin after ingesting these foods with allergens. Also it’ interesting to know that food processing steps can expose the epitopes promoting the binding with IgE. However, the processing can also decrease the IgE binding affinity with antigens. Besides the food processing procedures, I wonder if there are other factors that can potentially bring in allergens from other food sources and how these outbreaks associated with allergens can be traced.

    • CandiceZheng 3:01 pm on December 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      First of all, it is great to know that CFIA and the manufacture realized the problem very quickly and issued the recall so efficiently that there were no reported hospitalizations or deaths. This is a very informative post that introduced a lot of information related to food allergen, and I really like the subtitles that makes the post very clear and organized. In addition, I like the discussion about how food processing would alter the allergenic potential of food in various perspectives.

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