TORONTO — Maple Leaf Foods officials responded favorably to recommendations listed in the report of the Agriculture Sub-Committee investigating the 2008 Listeriosis outbreak. The outbreak was linked to contaminated meat products processed at Maple Leaf's Bartor Road plant that resulted in the deaths of 22 Canadians.

"The Committee has produced a comprehensive report that has important implications for advancing the strength of the Canadian food system," said Michael McCain, president and chief executive officer. "These recommendations build on the tough new Listeria policy implemented by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in April. The sub-committee report provides clear direction for further improvements, and we will be full participants in that process."

Maple Leaf reinforces the following in terms of key recommendations and improvements:

  • All food being sold in Canada, whether it is produced in federally or provincially inspected plants or imported from other countries, should meet a consistent and enforced national standard. The patchwork of existing regulatory regimes cannot continue.
  • Maple Leaf supports the call for a comprehensive review of C.F.I.A. resources, recognizing that there must be sufficient inspectors to ensure compliance with tough new standards, and trained to conduct sophisticated root-cause investigation of test results to identify potential risks.
  • Maple Leaf continues to advocate for any changes that result in faster identification of proven food-safety risks, whether through increased inter-governmental and agency coordination or through accelerated testing and expansion of laboratory capacity.

"As a result of our responsibility for the listeria tragedy, we had to improve, we did and we will continuously," Mr. McCain said. "We have implemented food-safety protocols based on global best practices in extensive testing, training and technology. Maple Leaf will continue to take an advocacy role in the pursuit of improved practices across the industry, freely sharing our lessons learned and new approaches to food safety that contribute to a world-class system for Canadians."