Monthly Archives: October 2018

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Another chicken recall, can nuclear technology help prevent salmonella in Canada?

On June 2, Health Canada issued a major recall of the popular No Name brand frozen chicken burgers to reduce the risk of salmonella-related illnesses across the country.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there has been an outbreak of 59 cases of salmonella-linked illnesses between March and May in eight provinces across Canada due to exposure to poultry. None of the cases have been fatal.  The investigation is ongoing and it’s possible that more products may be recalled in the near future.

This latest recall is a reminder that frozen chicken products contain raw poultry and should be handled no differently than regular poultry. It is also a reminder that chicken is currently one of the food products not irradiated in Canada.

Food irradiation is the treatment of food with a type of radiation energy known as ionizing radiation. At the levels used for food irradiation, ionizing radiation contains enough energy to kill bacteria, molds, parasites and insects.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, currently only six types of irradiated foods can be sold in Canada – potatoes, onions, wheat, flour/ whole wheat flour, whole or ground spices and dehydrated seasoning preparations, fresh raw ground beef and frozen raw ground beef.

Beef was only added to the list just last year by Health Canada. This came after nearly 20 years of lobbying by the country’s beef industry.

More than 60 countries allow irradiation of food.  Unlike Canada, the United States has permitted the irradiation of fresh and frozen ground beef since 1999. The list of foods irradiated in the U.S. is much longer than in Canada and includes pork, lobster, oysters, shrimp, fresh fruits and vegetables, and poultry, which the U.S. approved for irradiation in 1990.

Shortly after Health Canada approved the irradiation of beef, one Canadian consumer group, the Canadian Consumers Association, called for poultry to be added to the permitted list of foods.

While poultry irradiation is practiced in the U.S. and is safe, the Canadian industry is reluctant to push for it due to concerns about public acceptance – a common issue across the broader nuclear industry.

In a 2010 interview, the president of the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processor’s Council (CPEPC) explained the industry’s position.

“We believe irradiation is a good tool with good science behind it, and we’d like to see its use approved for poultry carcasses,” said Robin Horel. “However, before we would make an application to Health Canada for that, consumer attitudes would need to change.”

It is important to note that while food irradiation does not guarantee zero risk of foods causing illnesses like salmonella or E-Coli, it greatly reduces bacteria and other microorganisms that may be present in food. Even in jurisdictions like the U.S. where poultry can be irradiated, there are still recalls of chicken products due to handling issues during processing.

Remember, irradiated food must still be handled, stored and cooked properly.

If you would like to know more about the safety of food irradiation, Nordion has a great fact sheet online.

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2019 CANADIAN NUCLEAR ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS – CALL FOR NOMINATIONS

We are announcing the Call for Nominations for the 2019 Canadian Nuclear Achievement Awards, jointly sponsored by the Canadian Nuclear Society (CNS) and the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA).  These Awards represent an opportunity to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions, technical and non-technical, to various aspects of nuclear science and technology in Canada.

The deadline to submit nominations for the 2019 Canadian Nuclear Achievement Awards is January 12, 2019The Awards will be officially presented during the CNS Annual Conference held June 23 – 26, 2019 in Ottawa, ON.

Nominations may be submitted for any of the following Awards:

  • W. B. Lewis Medal
  • Ian McRae Award
  • Harold A. Smith Outstanding Contribution Award
  • Innovative Achievement Award
  • John S. Hewitt Team Achievement Award
  • Education and Communication Award
  • George C. Laurence Award for Nuclear Safety
  • Fellow of the Canadian Nuclear Society
  • R. E. Jervis Award

For detailed information on the nomination package, Awards criteria, and how to submit the nomination, see the linked brochure or visit: https://cns-snc.ca/cns/awards/. The nomination package shall include a completed and signed nomination checklist.

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Did You Know? Cleanest Energy

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France Sees Germany’s Nuclear Shutdown as a Cautionary Tale

Before coming to power, French President Emmanuel Macron endorsed a plan to reduce France’s reliance on nuclear to 50 per cent of electricity generation by 2025 from the current 75 percent.

This reduction in nuclear would be replaced by wind and solar, according to people who were supportive of the plan.

French President Emmanuel Macron

For nuclear energy supporters around the world, France’s high percentage of nuclear (along with Ontario’s) is often pointed to as an example of how to properly and rapidly decarbonize a grid. So, France moving away from nuclear was seen as a moral defeat.

Fast forward almost a year later, and Macron has done a major reversal on his promise that has largely gone unnoticed on this side of the Atlantic.

As recently as August, French Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot, formerly a famous journalist and environmental activist before joining Macron’s cabinet, had proclaimed that France would close up to 17 of its 58 reactors to meet the 50 per cent target by 2025.

In 2015, the previous government of Francois Hollande had voted an energy transition to reduce nuclear to 50 percent by 2025 but had taken no steps towards closing any reactors. Hulot’s comments signified that Macron would take action.

But the backtracking from the Macron government came quickly when Hulot said in November that trying to meet the 2025 target, as Reuters reported, “would increase France’s CO2 emissions, endanger the security of power supply and put jobs at risk.”

Then in late December, Macron himself said the 2025 target was not realistic, said he would not follow  Germany’s example of phasing out nuclear because he wanted to cut carbon emissions and shut down coal.

“I don’t idolize nuclear energy at all. But I think you have to pick your battle. My priority in France, Europe and internationally is CO2 emissions and (global) warming,” he said in a TV interview.

 

“What did the Germans do when they shut all their nuclear in one go? They developed a lot of renewables but they also massively reopened thermal and coal. They worsened their CO2 footprint, it wasn’t good for the planet. So, I won’t do that.”

“Nuclear is not bad for carbon emissions, it’s even the most carbon-free way to produce electricity with renewables,” Macron added.

Macron’s turn around on nuclear shows that, to be serious about fighting climate change, one needs all the tools in the toolbox to be available.