VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — The recent recall on beef in Canada by Alberta-based XL Foods has reignited consumer awareness and concern over health protection and food safety. There have been 477 food recalls in Canada since January. Few of them make the news and many Canadians are unaware of the danger that lurks in the isles of the grocery store.
Amongst the hundreds of food recalls, a pattern can be noted of certain foods posing the highest risk. Identifying and understanding which foods pose the highest pathogen risks to Canadians will serve as part of the solution for health protection.
While selecting and preparing food, Canadians should be aware of the following foods that carry significant risk:
1. Fruits and nuts - These items are almost always consumed in their raw form, posing a heightened risk of causing illness, as bacteria would normally be killed during the cooking process.
2. Salad leaves - Carry a high risk due to the ease with which food pathogens can enter the food supply through various extrinsic sources, such as contaminated irrigation water supplies.
3. Cucumber and tomatoes - Carry a high risk due to possible contaminated irrigation water or soil.
4. Beef - Beef is often contaminated with E.coli, as the deadly strand O157 is commonly found in the large intestine of cattle.
5. Poultry - These animals can live unharmed while harboring bacteria that can be deadly to humans.
6. Milk - Unpasteurized milk can transmit serious infectious diseases. Those with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of illness.
7. Pork - Can carry Listeria bacteria that poses serious risks to pregnant women.
8. Fish and shellfish - Many fish and shellfish feed off of microbes found in seawater and often contain pathogens if that seawater is contaminated.
9. Eggs - Salmonella poisoning often results from the consumption of contaminated Grade A eggs.
10. Peanut butter and granola bars (multi-ingredient items) - Norovirus is the most common food pathogen and largely associated with multi- ingredient items as a result of the necessary handling in production by food-industry workers. Everything from ice creams to nut butters are at risk.
The nature and extent of foodborne diseases is ever changing with newly emerging foodborne bacteria appearing constantly. This points to the need to protect Canadians not only through awareness, but also through the best technology possible. Irradiation of food, a widely accepted and adopted process in the USA and across Europe, is increasingly being discussed and considered by Canadians.
The process of Irradiation can significantly reduce pest and pathogen risk contamination when food is treated with electrical energy (electrons) through the use of an electron beam accelerator. Vancouver-based Iotron Industries Canada Inc. possesses the technology and capacity to offer a viable, safe and green solution to foodborne illness through food irradiation. Iotron’s President and CEO, Tino Pereira comments;
“Food recalls in Canada over the past few years have intensified concerns over food safety, and since then we have seen increased support for irradiation technology from the academic world, private companies and the Canadian public. Iotron has welcomed the support and have offered our 20 years of knowledge and expertise to these groups and organizations. We understand the mitigation of risk offered through irradiation and believe in its application to counter food risks in Canada.”
In a recent article in the Winnipeg Free Press, Dr. Rick Holley, Department of Food Science Professor at University Manitoba, argues it is time to use food irradiation for our collective good.
Pairing an awareness of the risks carried by certain foods and the protection offered through food irradiation would provide Canadians with ample protection against another massive food recall. It would offer some solace to those who understandably cannot keep up with the 477 recalls every year.
© Marketwire 2012