Maple Leaf Identifies Likely Source of Listeria Contamination at Bartor Road Plant



    
    TSX: MFI
    www.mapleleaf.com
    

    TORONTO, Sept. 5 /CNW/ - Maple Leaf Foods (MFI:TSX) today provided an
update on its investigation into the likely cause of a Listeria monocytogenes
contamination at its plant in Toronto, Ontario.
    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 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."
    "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.

    Maple Leaf Foods Inc. is a leading food processing company, headquartered
in Toronto, Canada. The Company employs approximately 23,000 people at its
operations across Canada and in the United States, the United Kingdom and
Asia. The Company had sales of $5.2 billion in 2007.

    Editors Note:

    Please be advised that On Demand Broadcast B-roll is available at CNW.
    Photo images are available at The Canadian Press picture archive via
    CPimages.
    





For further information:

For further information: Investor Inquiries Contact: Lynda Kuhn, (416)
926-2000; Media Inquiries Contact: Linda Smith, (905) 285-6721


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