Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Maple Leaf’s Listeria tragedy is remembered

Rather than trying to forget and move on, Maple Leaf Foods Inc. annually holds a memorial for all 13,000 employees to mark the death of 33 Canadians who were poisoned by Listeria monocytogenes in Maple Leaf’s lunchables products.

It was the worst case of food poisoning in Canadian history and disproportionately impacted youngsters who packed lunchables for school.

Dr. Randall Huffman came to Maple Leaf Foods as head of its food safety programs after that tragedy.

In an interview with Meatingplace Magazine, he said:

“Our food safety culture is definitely stronger and it comes from the top of the organization.” Michael McCain is president and chief executive officer and he leads the annual commemoration every August.

“We have a moment of silence across the business,” Huffman said. “We try to engage all 13,000 employees.

"It’s actually a week-long event where we host commemoration activities.

“We think about what happened 14 years ago, but we also talk about what we’re doing today to enhance food safety programs.

“Food safety is in the forefont of every plant manager’s mind, nearly every day, every week.

“Everybody thinks about it because we don’t let it go. It’s like it happened yesterday,” Huffman said.