While it may feel as though updates to COVID-19 restrictions and public health measures dominated industry news stories in 2021, other food safety news this year showcases the importance of food safety education and regulations in protecting the public from food-borne illness outbreaks. New industry innovations provide advancements in preventing food poisoning, while other research poses concerns for current food safety testing methods.
Here are some of the top food safety stories of 2021
1. No Grey Area in Red Meat Regulations
The Department of Health handed out notices to stop serving beef tartare, a dish made of raw ground beef, to 11 restaurants in New Brunswick. While the dish is considered a delicacy, provincial food regulations require meat to be cooked to the correct temperature to prevent food safety risks. The news story is a reminder of why food safety training and creating a HACCP plan is essential for food businesses.
2. Researchers Develop New Method to Detect Campylobacter in Chicken
The Technical University of Denmark’s National Food Institute has developed a new test method that quadruples the chances of detecting Campylobacter in chicken flocks. Campylobacteriosis is one of the leading causes of food-borne illness in Canada, and this new method can help stop the spread of infection before it can enter the meat supply chain.
3. Research Uncovers Dormant Vibrio Food Safety Concerns
Scientists have discovered that certain cells in Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a bacteria that can cause food poisoning through the consumption of raw or undercooked shellfish, can become dormant in poor growth conditions and revive after hibernation. This means that contaminated shellfish can go undetected using the typical methods used for food safety and the bacterial load in a sample may be underestimated.
4. British Columbia Heat Wave Led to Vibrio Illness Outbreak
After an unprecedented heat wave in June, 10 people in British Columbia got sick with food poisoning due to harvesting their own shellfish or recreational swimming. The higher temperatures caused a naturally occurring bacterium called Vibrio — which can cause illness when consumed through raw or undercooked shellfish — to multiply more rapidly.
5. Study Provides Insight into E. coli Flour Outbreak
A Cambridge University Press study analyzed how PHAC approached an E. coli outbreak in 2016 and why it was initially so difficult to determine that flour was the source of the outbreak. The study illustrates how food safety can be easily overlooked when handling flour and other dried goods, as opposed to high-risk foods.
Food safety education and regulations shouldn’t be overlooked
These stories emphasize the need for owners, supervisors and workers in the food industry, along with the general public, to understand and prioritize food safety practices. Proper training, education and food safety regulations all play a part in protecting the public from food-borne illness outbreaks. For food businesses, this means:
- staying on top of food safety news and recalls, as well as changes to regulations and restrictions. The Canadian Institute of Food Safety (CIFS) monitors food safety news and provides updates that affect food businesses, including changes to COVID-19 restrictions.
- actively working with Health Inspectors and regulators to improve their businesses. These authority figures are a great resource to learn the latest in food safety regulations, and they are there to help businesses succeed!
- prioritising food safety training for all employees. CIFS’s nationally recognized Food Handler Certificate Course and HACCP Programs provide food business workers, owners and operators with comprehensive training that will help them follow food safety regulations and protect customers from serious food safety incidents.
The Canadian Institute of Food Safety is here help you prepare for the new year with comprehensive food safety education and resources. To learn more, contact CIFS.