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

    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?

    http:////www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=521970

    October 2014
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/30/canada-potatoes-food-terrorism-prince-edward-island
    http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/sewing-needles-found-in-10-p-e-i-potatoes-1.2100463
    http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/more-needles-found-in-p-e-i-potatoes-1.2166223

    May 2015
    http://www.torontosun.com/2015/05/23/loblaws-recalling-russett-potatoes-from-atlantic-canada-stores
    http://www.torontosun.com/2015/05/25/ns-grocery-store-employee-finds-another-nail-in-recalled-potato
    http://www.torontosun.com/2015/06/29/reward-increased-to-500000-in-potato-tampering-investigation-in-pei
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/potato-tampering-tips-award-raised-to-500k-1.3131546
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/30/canada-potatoes-food-terrorism-prince-edward-island
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/potato-tampering-prevention-gets-2m-investment-1.3122541
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-potato-metal-detectors-tampering-1.3293375

     
    • 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, , , , , Recalls   

    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.

    References:
    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 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3075221/Still-Tesco-s-shelves-potato-salads-recalled-metal-fragments-scare-Safety-row-erupts-food-containing-stainless-steel-left-customers-buy-warnings-recall-missed.html#comments. Accessed 2015 November 25.

    Food Standards Agency. 2015. Potato Products Recall. Available from http://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/news/2015/13955/potato-products-recall. Accessed 2015 November 25.

    Food Safety Magazine. 2003. The Dirty Dozen: Ways to Reduce the 12 Biggest Foreign Materials Problems. Available from
    http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/aprilmay-2003/the-dirty-dozen-ways-to-reduce-the-12-biggest-foreign-materials-problems/. 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: , , , , Recalls   

    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).

    References

    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 http://www.inspection.gc.ca/about-the-cfia/newsroom/food-recall-warnings/complete-listing/2015-01-19/eng/1421730513089/1421730556698

    Health Canada. (2012). Food Allergies and Intolerances. Retrieved from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/allerg/index-eng.php

    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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