Quebec waiter arrested for serving food and causing anaphylactic shock in customer

Melissa Fundira for the CBC – Quebec waiter arrested after seafood puts allergic customer in coma

Canuel had left his EpiPen in his car.

He was hospitalized at the intensive care unit of the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke, where he was treated for a severe allergic reaction.

He says he also suffered a cardiac arrest the following day and was in a coma for several days.

“I almost died,” he said.

I’m not blaming Canuel one bit, but I can certainly understand how after carrying around an EpiPen for a long time, you can end up thinking it’s generally not needed. And seconds count when you have a reaction.

Also see Jonathan Montpetit’s article on the charges and legal side of things – Fish served to a customer nearly kills him – is that a crime?:

In order to convict the waiter, the Crown would have to establish that he displayed extreme carelessness toward the client’s safety, said one criminal defence lawyer.

“Criminal negligence requires a reckless disregard for human life,” Eric Sutton told CBC’s Radio Noon. “It’s not enough to be negligent or careless. You need more than that.”

Sutton is unconvinced the Crown will pursue a case against the waiter.

Allergies are certainly misunderstood by many people.

 

GMOs are safe, says NAS

The National Academy of Sciences has published a report – Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects:

Human Health Effects:
GE crops and foods derived from them are tested in three ways: animal testing, compositional analysis, and aller-genicity testing and prediction. Although the design and analysis of many animal-feeding studies were not optimal, the many available animal experimental studies taken together provided reasonable evidence that animals were not harmed by eating foods derived from GE crops. Data on the nutrient and chemical composition of a GE plant compared to a similar non-GE variety of the crop some-times show statistically significant differences in nutrient and chemical composition, but the differences have been considered to fall within the range of naturally occurring variation found in currently available non-GE crops.
Many people are concerned that GE food consumption may lead to higher incidence of specific health problems including cancer, obesity, gastrointestinal tract illnesses, kidney disease, and disorders such as autism spectrum and allergies. In the absence of long-term, case-controlled studies to examine some hypotheses, the committee examined epidemiological datasets over time from the United States and Canada, where GE food has been consumed since the late 1990s, and similar datasets from the United Kingdom and western Europe, where GE food is not widely consumed. No pattern of differences was found among countries in specific health problems after the introduction of GE foods in the 1990s.

What Chipotle doesn’t want you to know

Dan Flynn at Food Safety Network – Letter From The Editor: Exchange with CDC shows Chipotle still in denial:

Through their attorney, you will see how Chipotle accuses CDC, through the media, of misinforming the public about the illnesses in one of its six outbreaks. While I always like to pick on attorneys, the fact the their letter to CDC was dated last December at about the same time its CMG executives were blaming media for their meltdown suggests that the letter to CDC was a corporate strategy, not a legal one.

Scary, when you consider contamination not only causing food poisoning but our additional concerns of allergens in our food. Chipotle is trying to minimize or reduce the information being out out by the CDC even further.

Not really local

Great reporting on restaurants that tout “locally-sourced” food by Laura Riley at the Tampa Bay Times – At Tampa Bay farm-to-table restaurants, you’re being fed fiction:

This is a story we are all being fed. A story about overalls, rich soil and John Deere tractors scattering broods of busy chickens. A story about healthy animals living happy lives, heirloom tomatoes hanging heavy and earnest artisans rolling wheels of cheese into aging caves nearby.

More often than not, those things are fairy tales. A long list of Tampa Bay restaurants are willing to capitalize on our hunger for the story.

While I understand the difficulty of sourcing, (especially in a city that’s cold and snowy for much of the year, much unlike Tampa Bay, Florida), it’s false advertising.

Be sure to read part two on farmers’ markets:

Does she say all produce in their booth is their own?

“In passing conversation, we say yes. If people stop and ask if it’s ours, we say yes, it’s ours, because most people don’t have knowledge about what is grown in Florida.”

Disgraceful.

Glyphosate – carcinogenic or not?

Kate Kelland at the Globe and Mail – To spray or not to spray: Is your weed killer carcinogenic?:

In March 2015, an IARC monograph concluded that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic.” Yet seven months later the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), an independent agency funded by the EU, published a different assessment, saying glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.”

It sucks when politics and ideals gets in the way of science. I don’t know who is right, but we need to get this sorted out. There’s also two issues I see with the use of this product – the risk to human health, and the risk to the environment. For example, bee colony collapse disorder (CCD) has been linked to glyphosates, but I’m not sure if the findings are definitive.

The EWG’s dirty dozen

I’m not sure what to make of the dirty dozen list of fruits and vegetables tested to have the highest level of pesticides, as reported by the Environmental Working Group. Certainly there needs to be constant monitoring of the industry and the products to ensure their safety. But I’m a bit skeptical of their presentation.

From the EWG FAQ:

Shouldn’t I try to buy everything organic?

EWG recommends buying organic whenever possible. Not only is it smart to reduce your exposure to pesticides, but buying organic sends a message that you support environmentally-friendly farming practices that minimize soil erosion, safeguard workers and protect water quality and wildlife.

However, we know that organics are not accessible or affordable for everyone, so we created the EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ to help consumers make the healthiest choices given their circumstances.

EWG always recommends eating fruits and vegetables, even conventionally grown, over processed foods and other less healthy alternatives.

Don’t organic food producers use pesticides as well? Do they use less pesticides than conventional food producers?

More:

Do we know enough about the effects of pesticide on people?

No. Americans are likely polluted with far more pesticides than current studies report. Agribusiness and pesticide companies are not required to determine whether their chemicals are present in people, not even for compounds that widely contaminate the food supply. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national biomonitoring program has likely only scratched the surface in its efforts to determine the human body burden of pesticides.

“likely”. Yes, it’s worth being skeptical about the use of pesticides. But the EWG report does not give any information about the tested levels found in produce, nor how it compares to the limits for human consumption.

The US EPA provides some information on the human health risk assessment they perform on pesticides.

 

More on GMO labeling

Marion Nestle for the Guardian – No amount of ‘free from’ labeling will make processed food good for you:

Let me add something about companies labeling their products GMO-free. In my view, the food biotechnology industry created this market – and greatly promoted the market for organics, which do not allow GMOs – by refusing to label which of its products contain GMOs and getting the FDA to go along with that decision. Whether or not GMOs are harmful, transparency in food marketing is hugely important to increasing segments of the public. People don’t trust the food industry to act in the public interest; transparency increases trust.

Consumer Reports on GMO labeling

Consumer Reports on GMO labeling – What you need to know about GMO labeling:

“Safety is not the point. Almost all the labels required on food—such as ingredients and fat content—are informational. So is GMO labeling,” says Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives at Consumers Union. “The debate over GMO labeling is about consumers’ right to know what they are eating.”

In a recent nationally representative poll from Consumer Reports, 92 percent of people said they want GMO labeling. Halloran adds, “other polls have had similar findings. The food industry should stop fighting the public’s right to know in court and start listening to what their customers want.”

If it’s not about safety, then what’s the point? The “ingredients and fat content” are for people to make decisions about their health. With GMO labeling is health really the issue? Does the public really know what the issues are with GMOs or is it just fear of the unknown?

Why label GMOs?

Beth Skwarecki at Lifehacker – GMO Labels Won’t Make Your Food Safer:

Concerns like Hirshberg’s about pesticides demonstrate why GMO labeling is useless. It won’t even do what the people campaigning for labels want it to do. As we’ve mentioned before, the things people don’t like about GMOs are not GMO-specific problems. Here are some things labeling won’t help with:

  • It won’t help you avoid pesticides. Both the insecticidal Bt toxin and the herbicidal Roundup chemical, glyphosate, are used in both GMO and non-GMO crops.
  • It won’t eliminate superweeds, since this ecological problem is not GMO-specific either. (Non-GMO sunflower oil is another big creator of superweeds, by the way)
  • It won’t keep unpredictable mutations out of crops’ DNA, because mutation breeding introduces more DNA damage than any “GMO” technology, and nobody’s labeling that.
  • It won’t prevent allergies, or make allergies easier to track down. GMOs are already tested for similarities to common allergens before they can be approved. If you do have an allergic reaction to an unusual protein in a particular crop, a “partially produced with genetic engineering” label doesn’t do anything to help track down which ingredient is at fault.

Well researched.