.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Food Safety Network Blog

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Farmers' Markets and Community Dinners

Doug, Brae and I put together this commentary over the weekend in response to an annoucement by the Ontario Minister of Health to exclude farmers' markets and community dinners from inspection. The regulation isn't a big deal -- what is that there seems to be an optomistic bias within the communities that they haven't had problems before and that the government should leave them alone. We think the message should be that there are risks that need to be managed around food preparation in general -- no matter who is doing it.

Here's a taste of the article:

On September 24, 2005, at least 50 people fell ill after eating a barbeque chicken dinner in rural Nova Scotia. The outbreak investigation revealed that well-intentioned organizers had erred when preparing the potato salad. Sloppy food handling and a lack of timely refrigeration at a safe temperature provided the ideal conditions for Staphylococcus aureus intoxication. Community volunteers at the event were so shaken up that they requested therapeutic debriefing and counseling.
In September 2004, near Buffalo, New York, 28 confirmed cases of Salmonella infection were reported to the Erie County Department of Health following an annual community roast-beef dinner. Outbreak investigators found that volunteers were not trained in foodservice and "didn’t quite understand the importance of maintaining a hot or cold temperature." The beef was roasted on spits and the juices, collecting in a 5-gallon bucket at room temperature over the course of the day, was poured over the surface of ready-to-eat beef sandwiches. Unfortunately, the sandwiches were being drenched with both flavorful juices and Salmonella bacteria that had multiplied throughout the day at room temperature. Interviews with attendees indicated that approximately 1,500 of the 3,000 who attended the event were ill.
In 1994, 82 people contracted salmonellosis after eating a local Mennonite specialty, cook cheese, prepared in a traditional manner and sold at a farmers’ market in Waterloo, Ontario.
A Nov. 2, 1997, church dinner at Our Lady of the Wayside Parish in Chaptico, Maryland, a town of only 100 residents, left two elderly people dead and more than 100 in the emergency room after partaking of stuffed ham, turkey and fried oysters. Salmonella in the ham likely caused the illnesses.
There have been at least 30 other outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with homecooked products, community dinners and farmers' markets in North America (see http://www.foodsafetynetwork.ca/en/article-details.php?a=3&c=32&sc=419&id=890).
And those are just the ones we know about.
Yet Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman announced last week that those very institutions would be exempt from rules that apply to restaurants and other commercial establishments through amendments to existing legislation.
"We know Ontarians grow, sell and enjoy eating locally produced foods," said Smitherman. "The exemption we're creating allows them the freedom to continue their proud tradition of providing a wide range of high quality goods to the public."
In May the Minister stated, "There are genuine risks that need to be well-managed."

The rest can be found at here.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home