03/12/2012 02:21 EDT | Updated 05/12/2012 05:12 EDT

Bear meat at Fredericton restaurant leads to charges

A Fredericton restaurant owner is facing charges relating to the discovery of decomposing bear meat at her restaurant in December.

Le Binh Tina Tu has been charged with violating two sections of the New Brunswick Fish and Wildlife Act for having a part of a bear carcass in a cooler at the Mandarin Palace Restaurant.

Tu is scheduled to appear in court on March 23.

She could not be reached on Monday for comment.

The charges include having wildlife in a restaurant and illegal possession of a bear carcass, said Neil Jacobson, the head of enforcement for the Department of Natural Resources.

Illegal possession of wildlife is a major violation of the act, said Jacobson. It carries a penalty of up to a $2,000 fine and seven days in jail, he said.

Bear killed legally

The bear had been killed legally, said Jacobson. No other charges are expected.

"The file will go no further."

Inspectors with the departments of Health and Natural Resources began investigating after the bear meat was discovered at the restaurant on Forest Hill Road during a routine inspection.

An inspection record posted on the government's website on Dec. 21 said, "Food must be purchased from an approved source. Wild animals are not approved."

The restaurant was immediately closed, but reopened after a few days with Department of Health approval.

Department officials said at the time that the health risk to people was very low.

The department says only about 1.5 per cent of black bears carry trichinella, a parasite that may be transmitted to humans through consumption of raw or undercooked infected bear meat.

The department said in December it did not have evidence that the bear was suffering from the disease.