According to recent press reports, Michael McCain, president of Maple Leaf, said an investigation into a deadly bacteria outbreak linked to at least 13 deaths revealed that listeria bacterium may have accumulated in slicing equipment at the company’s Toronto plant.  The bacteria may have built up "deep inside" the mechanical components of two slicing machines, even though they were cleaned frequently.  Six more deaths are being investigated.  In all, 38 cases of listeriosis have been confirmed and 20 more are suspected.

This is not the first time slicers have been implicated in a foodborne illness outbreak.  Following an investigation in Georgia, 72 cases of Salmonella Montevideo infections were reported with the onset of gastrointestinal illness between August 21 and November 15, 2006.  Investigators found that the restaurant had been closed for remodeling and reopened on August 18, 2006, and was utilizing a brand new meat slicer following the reopening.  Nineteen days after the restaurant was identified as the possible source of the outbreak, on October 25, GPHL reported that one of the swab samples collected from the new meat slicer was positive for the Salmonella outbreak strain and the slicer was immediately removed from service.

In 2007 Arby’s customers were sick again with salmonella poisoning.   In the second outbreak health officials also found that roast beef was sliced on a contaminated slicing machine.  The latest salmonella outbreak happened in Moses Lake, Washington.

  • Tom Emerson R.S.

    RE: recent article about listeria and salmonella inside slicer mechanisms.
    Are there any more details or even photos of exactly what parts of the slicers were implicated? Industries and restaurants may need to implement a new cleaning protocol on these things.

  • Bix

    I worked in a deli when I was young. We had three slicers to clean at the end of the shift. We had to break them down, wash removable parts in a sink, and wipe the rest with a bleach solution. There were crevices that you just couldn’t get to easily. Maybe you could get a bleach-soaked Q-tip and work it around that unprotected blade. But at 11:30 at night, with everyone wanting to go home, and the rest of the store to clean, it never got done. We didn’t do a bad job, but it was hard to do a thorough job.