EDMONTON – Canadian shoppers will be able to see next month if the beef they’re buying has been mechanically tenderized.
Labelling regulations to take effect Aug. 21 are designed to protect consumers after the largest meat recall in the country’s history two years ago.
Health Canada says beef that has been mechanically tenderized must have a sticker saying that.
Packaged steaks must also have cooking instructions that the meat must reach an internal temperature of 63 C and must be turned at least twice.
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READ MORE: U.S. audit gives Canada low grade on food safety
Health Canada says the rules are meant to ensure that tenderized meat is labelled from the processor to the consumer, since it’s hard to tell just by looking at it.
But Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers’ Association of Canada, said the cooking requirements are too complicated for most people and he wants mechanical tenderizing banned outright.
“What average Canadian having a beer and a steak is going to measure the temperature of the meat?” Cran asked.
“This process has the potential to seriously sicken people or cause fatalities.”
Mechanical tenderizing is a process for tougher cuts of meat where needles or blades are used to penetrate or pierce the surface, or to inject the meat with a marinade or tenderizing solution.
While it makes the meat more tender, it can also inject E. coli bacteria that may be on the surface of the meat into the centre. That makes the bacteria harder to kill when cooking, particularly if a steak is done rare.
Federal officials began looking at issues surrounding mechanically tenderized meat after a massive E.-coli-related beef recall from Alberta’s XL Foods in 2012.
The plant was shut down for about a month when E. coli was found in processed beef. Eighteen people fell ill after eating meat linked to the plant.
Cran says irradiation of all meats is the best way to ensure meat is safe.
READ MORE: Report raises questions over XL Beef recall
Health Canada received an application to irradiate ground beef, poultry, shrimp and prawns a decade ago, but a spokesman says the public was worried about the process.
Another application from the industry is under consideration.
Mark Klassen, director of technical services with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, supports irradiation but says mechanically tenderized beef is safe as long as it’s cooked properly.
“We’ve had very few cases of illness, even though mechanically tenderized beef has been in Canada in large quantities for a long time,” Klassen said.
“It’s had a very good safety record.”
Klassen said the association was involved in the research that supported the new labelling, including the cooking instructions. He says it also tested the labels with a sample of Canadians to make sure they were understandable and practical.
He said the research determined that earlier Health Canada instructions to bring the meat to the same internal temperature as ground beef, 71 C, made the beef tougher. He said 63 C is safe as long as the meat is turned at least twice.
The extra turning is necessary, he explained, to ensure that outer area of a steak is cooked. The testing determined that sometimes the internal temperature can be OK but the outside can still be undercooked.
“We’ve been able to achieve our food safety objectives and we’ve been able to achieve a more consistent temperature, which contributes to a better eating quality as well,” Klassen said.
Keith Warriner, a food science professor at the University of Guelph, said labelling is good as long as the message is simple.
“Labels alone aren’t enough to change people’s attitudes and behaviours,” Warriner said, noting an education campaign might be needed.
The labels will appear in supermarket meat coolers at a point in the summer when barbecue season has already been sizzling for some time.
George Fleming, sales supervisor at Barbecue Country in Edmonton, said customers aren’t usually talking about mechanical tenderizing when shopping for grills.
But he said he usually tells them to go to a butcher shop for the best cuts.
“You pay a little more but you know the meat hasn’t been tenderized.”
©2014The Canadian Press
TAMPA, Fla. – A Palestinian-American teen left with stitches and bruises from his detention by Israeli security forces said Sunday he was beaten, kicked and blindfolded on a family trip to the Middle East after a cousin there was abducted and killed.
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Fifteen-year-old Tariq Abu Khdeir flew home to Florida last week and told The Associated Press that he holds out hope he can visit the region again and “come back safe.”
READ MORE: Fierce battle in Gaza leads to deadliest day in Israel, Hamas conflict
Israeli authorities released Tariq three days after he was detained and sentenced him to nine days of house arrest while they investigated what they said was his participation in violent protests over the death of his cousin, 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian living near Jerusalem.
Seated beside his mother, the teen told AP that he did not take part in rock-throwing disturbances shortly before he was picked up by Israeli security forces. He said he just was watching and listening to a commotion surrounding the investigation of his cousin’s disappearance when Israeli forces began shooting rubber bullets and tear gas into a crowd that had formed.
“I didn’t do anything to them (Israeli authorities) to do this to me,” he said.
IN PICTURES: Gaza’s deadly day
The teen said in the first moments of being picked up, he was slammed down. And during the ordeal, he said, he was kicked in several parts of his body and blindfolded.
At the time, the family was on a trip that began in June and was expected to last about six weeks.
Tariq said he and Mohammed had struck up a quick friendship. They visited sacred sites including the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. He said they helped set up lights in neighbour’s homes before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“He took me to as many places as he could,” Tariq said.
Mohammed was killed the fifth week of the visit, Tariq said. He said he had gone off to a bakery for about five minutes the day Mohammed disappeared, returning to find him gone.
After Mohammed was found dead, a crowd filled with family members formed and started screaming at the police, Tariq said.
“Everything was getting so tense,” he recalled.
READ MORE: More than 330 Palestinians killed as Gaza ground offensive grows
The neighbourhood calmed before security forces came back and started shooting rubber bullets and tear gas, according to Tariq. He saw people on his left running and screaming for help. Right behind them were three soldiers, he said. Everyone scattered and ran from the alley. Tariq said he tried to jump a gate but fell.
“I was running because I didn’t know why they (Israeli authorities) were running after me,” he said.
Tariq said he was slammed down, head first, when he was detained. He added that his hands were tied behind his back and he was kicked in the face, stomach and ribs and went unconscious for a time. Tariq was taken to jail where he was blindfolded and still handcuffed, he added.
Tariq said he felt the hits again when he watched a video of his beating after his release.
“I couldn’t believe it. All the stuff I went through,” Tariq said. “I was getting hit so much, I couldn’t even say words. They beat on me like … there was no problem.”
©2014The Canadian Press
EDMONTON – Alberta Occupational Health and Safety is investigating the death of a teenager at a construction site southeast of Drumheller.
The teen was working for Arjon Construction on a gravel crushing operation at Wintering Hills.
OHS said there was an issue with a conveyor belt at the site.
A co-worker described the incident as a freak accident.
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“It shouldn’t have happened, I agree. The company is a very safe company. I can tell you the boy was wearing all his proper equipment. He did everything right,” said Mathew Blackburn.
“It could have happened to me. It happened. It’s a dangerous site.”
The death is not being treated as criminal. Friends and family have identified the victim as 15-year-old Chris Lawrence.
According to OHS, anyone aged 15 to 18 can work at any type of job as long as they don’t work between midnight and 6 a.m.
“Employers are responsible for making sure that their employees are fully trained and that they are aware of all the workplace hazards,” explains Lauren Welsh from OHS. “It appears that this worker was in training to be able to work on this site.”
The gravel operation has since been shut down for the investigation.
The Alberta Federation of Labour calls the fatality a “tragic reminder of Alberta’s unsafe work laws.”
“Alberta’s child labour laws are among the most lax in Canada,” said Siobhan Vipond, AFL secretary treasurer.
“The AFL has repeatedly made recommendations to improve working conditions and safety standards, specifically for young workers. This weekend’s tragic news is yet another reminder that much more needs to be done to keep Albertans safe at work.”
“It’s always terrible,” Vipond told Global News on Tuesday.
“Nobody goes to work and doesn’t expect to come home, and nobody’s family expects someone not to come home.
“It’s particularly tragic when we’re talking about a young worker, 15, because you think about all the things someone could have done with their lives. But it does make you examine what are we not doing right – that we’re not protecting our kids… We know it’s summer, construction season is upon us. Kids like to go out, earn some summer money, but this isn’t what should happen.”
In April, a submission to the Employment Standards from the AFL included several pages of recommendations on young workers.
“Alberta needs targeted inspections of workplaces that employ 15-17 year-olds, especially in construction and other comparatively dangerous occupations,” said Vipond. “The AFL made urgent recommendations earlier this year, and this past weekend we are sadly reminded why these changes are so desperately needed in Alberta.”
The province is currently conducting an Employment Standards Code review, and has consulted roughly 4,000 Albertans and organizations for feedback.
Would the province look at restricting young workers from certain industries that are more dangerous?
“That question is open for discussion, and I think that’s what’s being discussed right now as part of the larger Employment Standards Code review that’s going on,” said Brookes Merritt, spokesperson with the Alberta government’s Occupational Health and Safety department.
“Generally speaking, youth workers are in a higher risk category, largely due to lack of experience in the workforce.”
“And when you combine youth with certain industries that are higher risk in general like the construction industry or the mining industry, certainly that’s a concern to the government of Alberta, and we do look very closely at what the working conditions are for youth workers in industries like that,” explained Merritt.
He said, in the last three years, there have been three young people killed on the job in Alberta.
Alberta youth fatalities on the job Supplied, Occupational Health and Safety
Alberta youth fatalities on the job
Supplied, Occupational Health and Safety
“For every workplace fatality, an Occupation Health and Safety inspection is set in motion, an investigation, and that’s occurring in this case too,” said Merritt. “Given the young age of the worker here, we’re also running a parallel Employment Standards investigation, and that’s looking at things like hours of work, rest periods, rates of pay, etc.”
“We expect and demand – in the province of Alberta – that, regardless of the age of the worker or the nature of the work, that employers take the responsibility – and they must by legislation – ensure that their workers are operating in a safe manner.”
A report on the province’s Employment Standards Code review is due to be presented in the fall.
Occupational Health and Safety Results 2013
UPDATE: After searching for more than two months for a bone marrow donor, Montreal leukemia patient Mai Duong has found a compatible cord blood donor. It’s not the perfect solution, but doctors say it’s the next best thing.
It is not being released where the donor came from.
“A woman has given birth to her child and has donated her baby’s umbilical cord to save another life,” said Duong in a statement.
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“Thank you dear mommy, we cannot fathom the importance of your gesture. I am very moved and I profoundly thank you for what you’ve done.”
VANCOUVER — Mai Duong, 34, only has six weeks left to get a life-saving stem cell or bone marrow transplant — and she’s pleading with the Lower Mainland’s Asian population to save her.
The mother of one was born and raised in Montreal. She’s had good health for most of her life, until she was diagnosed with leukemia in January 2013, while pregnant with her second child. Doctors told her she had to terminate the pregnancy — she was at 15 weeks — and start chemotherapy immediately.
Duong went into remission, but ten months later the cancer was back. And this time it was more aggressive and chemotherapy wouldn’t work, she was told. Instead, she needed stem cells or a bone marrow transplant.
“Even though I’m on the international registry list for donors, I did not have a match for the bone marrow. I was devastated when they told me that,” she told Global News.
It turns out the problem of finding a match, and a perfect one at that, is more common among those of Asian descent. In 2012, 2-year-old Jeremy Kong of San Francisco was diagnosed with leukemia and couldn’t find a match until he went public. After doing so, he found a nine out of ten bone marrow donor match and underwent a transplant, but died a year later. Experts say Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino and other South Asian populations are behind Caucasians when it comes to donating blood and organs.
Jeremy Kong, File Photo.
Jeremy Kong, File Photo.
“We’re severely underrepresented in the international list. So it’s not even a local or a national problem; it’s a global problem,” said Duong.
Duong is turning to Vancouver because of its large Asian population, and urging people to get tested. She needs a donor of Vietnamese or Filipino descent for a perfect match, and she needs to find them within six weeks or it’s unlikely she’ll survive.
For more information on how you can help Duong, visit her Facebook page or website and get tested at OneMatch桑拿按摩.
–With files from Darlene Heidemann.
Watch above: a monument unveiled at Back to Batoche Days honours Métis veterans
SASKATOON – For the past four days, over 20,000 people have come to celebrate Métis culture at the Back to Batoche Days Festival north of Saskatoon.
During this year’s event, a historic monument was unveiled.
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Bell of Batoche displayed at Saskatchewan historic site
“We built the only Métis veterans monument that will have all of the names of the Métis veterans that fought in 1885, World War I, World War II, Korea,” said Robert Doucette, president of the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan.
“I’m hoping at some point it will also be the peacekeepers that fought in Afghanistan.”
Lennard Morin comes from a proud Métis military family.
“My uncle was in World War I and he was captured, and he died as a prisoner from wounds as a P.O.W. So he’s buried in France,” Morin explained.
Morin said the Métis people who fought in World War I were promised they would be heroes when they came home but that promise wasn’t kept.
“Because they were Métis, they weren’t. So they came home emotionally scarred,” said Morin.
Morin made it his goal to have a monument erected to recognize all that Métis veterans have sacrificed for Canada.
After years of lobbying and pushing for government funding, Morin’s dream was finally realized with the monument’s unveiling on Sunday.
The festival is widely recognized as the biggest Métis cultural event in Canada. It draws more than 5,000 visitors daily.
“It has been just another great year in Batoche. We’ve got people from the United States, people from all over the world. Batoche has come to symbolize a family gathering,” said Doucette.
After Sunday’s mass, Métis leaders and church members embarked on a traditional walk from the Batoche cultural grounds to the national historic site where the Bell of Batoche was brought out and rung with pride.