By the Numbers
According to a recent article in the Vancouver Sun, misplaced priorities in government spending is likely to blame for the recent tragic E. coli outbreak in Walkerton, Ontario that took 14 lives and caused nearly 2,000 of the towns 4,800 population to become ill. The reason: inadequate maintenance of the citys water purification and sewer treatment facilities. Unfortunately, public investment in water treatment is not a major concern across much of Canada. According to the Sun, British Columbia averages 220 boil orders annually. In small provinces such as Kye Bay on Vancouver Island people have boiled drinking water for five years.
A follow-up to Walkerton: six law firms have joined together in a $300 million class action lawsuit filed on behalf of hundreds of E. coli virus victims. Named in the suit are the Municipality of Brockton (which includes Walkerton), the towns public utilities commission, the local health unit and the provincial government. Also named was Stan Koebel, manager of the local public utilities commission, who according to reports, was given information which if used could have prevented the tragedy.
According to a recent study funded by the National Seafood HACCP Alliance, small firms are the hardest hit by the FDAs new seafood HACCP regulations. The survey, which was responded to by 744 seafood businesses from 43 states and three territories, showed that total cost of implementing HACCP ranged from $17,500 to $93,000 and that the overall impact was 7 to 10 times greater for smaller businesses.
According to a recent article in the Journal of Food Protection, vaccinating food industry employees against hepatitis A, an infection which can be commonly transmitted through the handling of food, could prevent approximately 2,500 symptomatic infections, 93,000 days of illness and 8 deaths. The estimated vaccination of 100,000 food industry employees would reportedly cost $8.1 million but would reduce the costs of hepatitis A treatment, public health intervention, and work loss by $3.0 million, $2.3 million, and $3.1 million respectively. A vaccination policy would reduce society expenses while costing the health system $13,696 per year of life saved (YOLS), a ratio that exceeds generally accepted standards of cost effectiveness.