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Food Safety Assessment

BCCDC food issue notes are notes from the field, on food safety issues that BCCDC has been asked to investigate. The notes include BCCDC evidence and recommendations about the issue.

Food issue notes

  • Alcohol Bitters: Evaluate safety of infused (alcoholic) bitters (March 2014)
  • Bakery couche (linen): Use of unwashed linen for proofing of breads in a commercial bakery (February 2014)
  • Bull kelp: Evaluate harvest, processing, packaging of seaweed (bull kelp) (October 2013)
  • Carrageenan: Evaluate safety and toxicity of this additive (October 2014)
  • Cold nitro brew coffee: Evaluate safety issues associated with manufacture and retail of cold nitro brew coffee (November 2017)
  • Chaga Tea: Evaluate safety of chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus or cinder conk) for use in tea (July 2018)
  • Fermented nut cheese: Review process risks of nut butters, fermented cashew nut cheeses and rejuvelac starter (August 2017)
  • Fermented nut cheese ingredient safety : Review handling of ingredients during nut cheese fermentation process (October 2018)
  • Chocolate: Use of commercially sourced chocolate in baked and molded chocolate desserts (September 2013)
  • Raw carob home prepared: Manufacture of raw carob or cocoa chocolate desserts from raw ingredients prepared at home (September 2013)
  • Raw carob commercially purchased: Manufacture of raw carob or cocoa chocolate desserts with commercially purchased raw carob/chocolate powder (March 2014)
  • Sunflower and flax seed oil: Manufacture of flax seed oil using a Piteba oil screw press (October 2013)
  • Freezing for parasite destruction: Evaluate sushi products such as imported flounder and lobster: Is freezing for parasite destruction needed? (February 2014)
  • Histamine risk in tuna: Evaluate histamine risks of sous-vide cooking of tuna, and thawing of tuna at ambient temperature (February 2015)
  • Kombucha tea fermentation: Evaluate safety of a fermented kombucha tea preparation (Updated March 2020)
  • Liquid Nitrogen: Review risk and safety of preparation and serving of cereal dipped in liquid nitrogen to produce a fog-like effect called "dragon's breath" (October 2017)
  • Marine water for commercial use: What are the risks associated with marine water sourced from Burrard Inlet for use in restaurant fish tanks (October 2013)
  • Novel foods: Is the food, ingredient or process novel? A one-page summary review of Health Canada novel food requirement for health authorities and EHOs (July 2018)
  • Olives, smoked and pickled: Evaluate safety of commercial olives further processed by smoking and pickling (April 2014)
  • Pasta shelf-life: Provide guidelines for refrigeration of fresh and partially dried pasta (September 2013)
  • Raw diet foods: Best practices to minimize existing food safety hazards with raw foods (March 2016)
  • Raw refrigerated fish in ROP: Provide guidelines for packaging raw fresh fish in Cryovak (reduced oxygen packaging) (March 2015)
  • Salt koji fermentation: Evaluate a fermented rice recipe, koji (a precursor to miso and soy sauce) (August 2017)
  • Scallops processing: Can mantles be smoked for human consumption and can offal be used for pet food? (July 2013)
  • Sea salt production: Review of sea salt productions risks and evaluate lab results from a metal analysis of sea salt sample (June 2015)
  • Sous-vide duck breast: Processes are being questioned by inspectors as the meat in centre of breast is pink at service (January 2015)
  • Sous-vide eggs: Review food service of preparing eggs sous vide style that were linked to salmonella enteritidis illnesses (January 2015)
  • Sushi safety: Review of sushi rice acidification and sushi best practices (March 2016)
  • Tempeh fermentation: Evaluate food safety of tempeh fermentation recipe (November 2016)
  • Tiffin containers (reusable) : Provide guidelines for the use of reusable take-away containers for restaurant meals (July 2013)
  • Wheatgrass and microgreens: Are wheatgrass and microgreens the same risk as sprouted seeds? (May 2013; revised April 2015)
  • Wild (pine) mushroom foods: Evaluate safety of wild mushrooms in infused oil and salts (September 2013)

Active Research Study: Kombucha Testing

BCCDC, in collaboration with the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) is conducting a study of kombucha products in the marketplace. Prior studies have found that kombucha beverages can become very acidic and may contain levels of alcohol above 1%. While residual levels of alcohol are normal in fermented foods and beverages (see our Food Issue Notes for more information on fermentation), levels in beverages above an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 1% are considered to be liquor. For a small child weighing 10 kg or less, as little as 375 mL of a beverage with an ABV of 1% may produce illness.

To assess potential risks and verify beverage contents, samples of kombucha products are being collected from retail grocery stores, restaurants, farmers’ markets, recreation centres, and at processing and manufacturing locations from July to September 2019. BCCDC food safety specialists and Environmental Health Officers from all five health authorities are assisting in sample collection; samples from the public are not required and will not be tested. 

BCCDC will report on the study’s findings and share information with the public and regulatory partners. Final study results are expected in November 2019. 

While results are not yet conclusive, processers and home brewers should familiarize themselves with the potential for the development of acid and alcohol in kombucha products.  In 2015, BCCDC produced a Food Safety Assessment of a Kombucha Tea Recipe and a Food Safety Plan, which outlines potential hazards, as well as recommendations for minimizing risks.

Alcoholic beverages may not be suitable for young children, people who are pregnant or seeking to become pregnant, breast-feeding parents, or those who are immunocompromised. Individuals who do not wish to consume alcohol, even at low levels, for personal, religious or health reasons may also wish to be careful about beverage choice. 

Funding for this study was provided by the BCCDC Foundation for Public Health and NSERC’s Canada Research Chair Program through BCIT with in-kind contribution from the University of British Columbia. 

Listeria in food processing facilities study

Occurrence and distribution of Listeria species in facilities producing ready-to-eat foods under provincial inspection authority in British Columbia

SOURCE: Food Safety Assessment ( )
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