Canadian Poultry Magazine

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Maple Leaf Identifies Source of Listeria


September 8, 2008
By Maple Leaf

Topics

September 5, 2008- After careful study of the records, the physical
plant and product test results received from the Canadian Food
Inspection Agency (CFIA), internal and external experts have concluded
that the most likely source of listeria contamination was a possible collection point for
bacteria located deep inside the mechanical operations of two slicing
machines on lines 8 and 9.

Rigorous sanitization of this equipment was
completed on a daily basis in accordance with or exceeding the
equipment manufacturer's recommendations. However, upon full
disassembly, areas were found where bacteria may accumulate deep inside
the slicing machines and avoid the sanitization process. There were
also other environmental factors, not on product contact surfaces, that
may have contributed to the contamination.

"We deeply regret this incident and the impact it has had on
people's lives," said Michael McCain, President and CEO. "We have the
highest food safety standards and we have worked around the clock and
left no stone unturned to identify the root cause and eliminate the
source of this contamination. Throughout this crisis we have done
whatever it takes to place our consumers' interests and public health
first. It's now up to us to earn back your confidence."

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"We are fully co-operating with the CFIA as they continue their
investigation and conduct due diligence and verification. The plant
will not re-open and no products will be released until the CFIA and
Maple Leaf are confident in the effectiveness of the enhanced food
safety protocols in place," continued Mr. McCain.

Maple Leaf voluntarily shut down all operations at the plant on
August 20th. Maple Leaf implemented a voluntary recall of all 191
products made at the Bartor Road plant from January 1st to present.
Subsequent testing of recalled products show no listeria contamination
was present in any products other than the three products manufactured
on the two lines involved. Since then a comprehensive investigation and
deep sanitization of the plant has been completed, working closely with
the CFIA.


The following immediate actions have been taken:

  • Working with our customers, Maple Leaf quickly completed the recall
    of products from retail store shelves, which is being followed up
    with visual inspections of customer shelves. All foodservice products
    from customer and distribution warehouses have been recalled.
  • The slicing equipment on lines 8 and 9 at the plant have completely
    torn down and deep cleaned, with multiple tests conducted to ensure
    they are cleared of any contamination. Similar slicing equipment
    across the Company's other plants has also been deep cleaned and
    tested, and will continue to be done regularly.
  • The Bartor Road facility has undergone five intensive sanitations and
    extensive testing throughout the plant to ensure the sanitization is
    complete and effective.
  • The Company has increased the depth and frequency of its already
    rigorous testing and sanitation procedures across all its meat
    plants.