Cheese Recall in Quebec Feeds Listeria Hysteria

by John McKiggan

Provincial health authorities in Quebec have announced a recall of three brands of cheese after one person died and 87 people became sick from salmonella food poisoning.

The recall has increased the hysteria surrounding the Maple Leaf Foods listeria recall.

I have seen at least three media reports incorrectly linking the cheese recall with listeria. See here and here, for examples.

The media reports have helped Canadian’s become more aware of some of the risks inherent in our food safety system. However, they have also created a great deal of fear in many people who are now afraid to eat any kind of packaged food product.

The fact is that those most at risk from listeriosis are infants, the elderly, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems. The general public has very little risk of becoming seriously ill as a result of listeria.

It is certainly possible for people to suffer serious injury or death if companies responsible for manufacturing and packaging foods are negligent. It is also people for people to suffer illness or death if food is not properly prepared/cooked.

Most listeria and salmonella outbreaks are due to contamination by the person preparing/cooking food products.

So be careful how you prepare your food. Pay attention to “Best Before” dates on food packages. And keep track of how long that leftover meatloaf has been in your fridge before you feed it to your kids!

Have a safe Labour Day weekend!

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