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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Maple Leaf Listeria linked to 12 deaths: health officials

Canadian health officials now say 12 deaths have been linked to a listeriosis outbreak from a Maple Leaf Foods plant in North York, Ontario.

The spike in deaths is because they have reworked the definition to include any cases where Listeria is an underlying or contributing factor to a person’s illness, said Agricultural Minister Gerry Ritz at a news conference Monday afternoon.

Health officials also said that they are dealing with 26 confirmed cases of listeriosis and are investigating another 29 suspected cases. Of the 26 confirmed cases, there have been 12 deaths –11 victims were from Ontario and the other was from British Columbia.  The B.C. death had been on a list of confirmed cases but federal health officials said it remains "controversial" and is still under investigation.  Of the 11 deaths in Ontario, Listeria has been definitively linked to six of them while five cases are still under investigation to determine the extent the bacteria had on the death.
The disease has an incubation period of up to 70 days, meaning there could be more cases in the coming weeks. Officials recently confirmed a case in Cranbrook, B.C.

Maple Leaf Foods has recalled all of its products that were manufactured at the Ontario plant. But despite such measures, CTV British Columbia reported that a Safeway store in B.C. was still selling at least one of the banned products as recently as Sunday.
 

  • Bix

    12 deaths … ouch.
    A 70-day incubation period. I bet that complicates things.
    Mad cow, or CJD, has what, a 10 or 20 year incubation period? I guess tracking is pretty impossible there.

  • Alex A

    I have been a sanitation practitioner for a long time and I have seen it all. How cleaning is compromised to produce more products in order to meet customers demand. This listeria issue is all about cleaning and how it was overlooked.Since the magnitude of this Listeria contamination is so massive I would suspect that the cause may come from an ingredients used commonly to seasoned different products. I would suggest that Maple Leaf should start investigating their ingredient suppliers process and facilities.
    Going back to cleaning. In a food plant, everybody agree that cleaning is a vital part of the operation in order to prevent the products and the consumers from all sorts of contamination. However, business sense put cleaning in the back burner when production volume and customer demand is getting critical. Cleaning budget is almost always limited in terms of manpower, supplies , cleaning time, tools. Most of the time surface cleaning is more important than deep cleaning. Nevertheless , we know that most dirts will reside and stay to decay on areas that are hard to reach, or dead spots. We don’t do anything about this areas until something very concerning happened. Sanitation manpower is always a joke, they are, most of the time the worst workers in the plant. They are the lowest paid, performance records are poor, morale is low, barely passed high school, marginal mentallity, bad attitude, dishonest, untrustworthy and so on. Why? It is not their fault to be in sanitation, it is the fault of the management itself, they dumped all the responsiblities to the sanitation supervisor. They thought by hiring a good supervisor will change the attitude and performance of the sanitation employees. Wrong! Where I work, any production employees who always create trouble in production or other department are dump to sanitation department? Why because they management thought that sanitation is not an important department.
    IT IS ABOUT TIME THAT FOOD COMPANIES START TO REALIZE THAT THEY CANNOT BE A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS ENTITY IF THEY CONTINUE TO BE IGNORANT IN SANITATION AND HYGIENE. ALL EMPLOYEES FROM TOP TO BOTTOM MUST UNDERSTAND AT LEAST THE BASIC PRINCIPLE OF SANITATION. IT IS MORE THAN A SURFACE CLEANING USING MOPS AND RAGS AND SOME SOAP. IT IS DEFINITELY MORE THAN THAT.
    THEY HAVE TO HIRE THE CREAM OF THE CROP OF THE COMPANY TO BE SANITATION WORKER AND PAY THEM WELLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!good people don’t cheat on what they do . They are responsible, dedicated, and accountable in what they do. They are trainable, intelligent, and always proud of what they do.
    Sanitation is four sided, and a food company has to satisfy all sides in order to have a successful sanitation program. 1. good employees 2. Right cleaning supplies(tools, chemicals, etc.) 3. Ample time to clean 4. Right cleaning methods and training.
    ALL IN ALL , IT IS TIME CHANGE OUR PERCEPTION, MAKE CLEANING THE FOUNDATION OF YOUR PRODUCTION.