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Home » Health and Wellness

What Maple Leaf Foods is doing to keep their Products Safe

Submitted by on Monday, 7 June 20105 Comments

“ Sharon, we killed 22 people.”

Those were the first words of Maple Leaf Foods’ Senior VP of Human Resources to Sharon Beals, the company’s then-prospective Senior VP of Food Safety & Quality Assurance, who now proudly holds that title.

I, along with several Vancouver bloggers, met with Sharon and several Maple Leaf Foods representatives recently at Quince Cooking School in Vancouver .

We gathered to hear, and discuss, what Maple Leaf Foods has done, and is doing, to be the leader in food safety and quality, recover from its Listeria problems of 2008, and ensure that such an event never, ever, happens again.

We listened intently to Sharon, eager to ask all the questions stewing in our minds. I was happy to see how serious Maple Leaf Foods is about this topic, and it showed a lot to me that they sent several Senior VPs to discuss it with us.

Sharon explained many of the measures Maple Leaf Foods has been taking since 2008 to be the leader in food quality and safety.  Among these are:

  1. Daily morning meetings to discuss test results and action required to eliminate any contaminants detected.
  2. Working to find contaminants as far away from “Zone 1″ (i.e. the counters and equipment) as possible, so that they never come near to, or make it to, Zone 1 at all.
  3. Investments of tens of millions of dollars in new equipment and improved testing.
  4. Implementation of innovative training programs for floor employees, to ensure they deeply understand and follow all food safety and hygiene rules.

More importantly, we were anxious to know how the Maple Leaf team plans to maintain their positive momentum and ensure food safety over the long term.

Mainly, we learned that Maple Leaf is obtaining several food safety certifications, each of which have their own strict auditing bodies that perform unannounced audits to ensure all of their high standards are being met.  If a plant receives an audit score less than an “A,” special “Tiger Teams” composed of six-sigma black belts is brought in to bring things back into shape.

We were assured that, with these measures in place, Maple Leaf Foods will meet or exceed all Health Canada Safety requirements.  For more information about food safety at Maple Leaf, please click here. Or see their food safety blog by clicking here.

On to the food!

We were lucky enough to be served by one of Maple Leaf’s top chefs, who is regularly involved in food and product development.  All of the food was excellent, and I was happy to see that my son loved the Natural Selections Black Forest Ham that I was given to take home.  It was especially surprising, because normally he doesn’t like meat at all, unless its his Grandma’s homemade meatballs with homemade tomato sauce! (Um, yeah, he is a tad bit picky in the food department).

Overall, it was a great and productive evening.  It looks to me like this company that has “been through hell” is keeping with their food safety commitments and is on the road to making a strong comeback.

And now, a giveaway!

We received some goodies to give away, and here’s your chance to win ‘em.  Just leave a comment or question below about this post or Maple Leaf Foods in general.  A winning comment will be selected.  Since this prize pack contains a couple of large and heavier items, I won’t be able to ship it.  So while all comments are welcome, only commenters from the Vancouver, BC area who are able to meet me somewhere in Vancouver to get the prize package will be entered.

The prize pack includes:

  • a large cooler bag – perfect for picnicking
  • a meat thermometer – perfect for barbecueing
  • an apron – also perfect for barbecueing!
  • several coupons for Maple Leaf Foods products that do not require any additional purchases – they are straight-discounts
  • a vacuum-sealed multi-grain Dempster’s oven fresh baguette

I will choose the winner this Friday, June 11, 2010, so go ahead and leave your comment or question now!

Also, please take this short survey about how you feel about Maple Leaf Foods: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/308859/feedback

Return to Parenting – The Dad Jam Home

A small disclaimer:

This event was part of a Word-of-Mouth campaign organized by Matchstick Inc., a Word-of-Mouth marketing organization.  I received the giveaways and dinner at the round-table event.  The views expressed in this post are my own, based on my experiences at the round-table event.  I was not paid for this post, and it contains my honest opinion.

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