A few weeks ago I was invited by Matchstick to attend a roundtable dinner with Maple Leaf foods. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. They had a huge recall due to listeriosis. It was scary and it affected a lot of people.
So why me? Because I blog and because I’m a parent. They wanted to get out the message about their new safety pledge.
Upon arrival we were treated to appetizers and some mingling with the other invitees and Michael McCain, President and CEO.
It was nice to chat with him. We talked about kids and and families. His kids are older and he expressed how much he’s going to miss having in his home; his kids are all growing up and moving out to start their own lives. He spoke from the heart; family really means a lot to him.
When we all sat down for dinner, Michael spoke to all of us.
It was a statement and it was heart-felt. I was really impressed. He didn’t try to cover it up and he didn’t come up with excuses. What Michael and Maple Leaf foods did do is come up with a process and a pledge that this wouldn’t happen again.
The biggest part of this pledge, which Michael covered in detail, is their enhanced food safety protocols.
- New sanitation protocols are in place to ensure we effectively reduce the potential for bacterial harbourage points in building and equipment.
- We have strengthened our approach to environment, equipment and product sampling, testing and data analysis to find any potential contamination sooner.
- We have documented new protocols into new Standard Operating Procedures, obtained CFIA approval, and rolled them out across Maple Leaf Consumer Foods, involving training of our people.
- Maple Leaf has appointed Dr. Randall Huffman to the position of Chief Food Safety Officer, the first such position in Canada. Dr Huffman assumed this position effective January 5, 2009, reporting to Michael H. McCain, President and CEO.
There is much more detail on their website.
One thing that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about is “What are the other companies doing? Are they being this safe?” Maple Leaf Foods thought they were being safe and they ended up killing 22 people. Are the other food processing and packaging companies learning from Maple Leaf Foods’ mistakes and being extra cautious? As a consumer, I can only hope that the food products that I buy for my family are safe and won’t harm them.
Not only did Maple Leaf Foods tell us what they are doing to keep us safe, they want consumers to be safe at home as well. Here are some tips:
- Keep hand washing soap in the kitchen so it is easily accessible and wash your hands with soapy warm water for at least 20 seconds prior to starting meal preparation and during any new stage from preparation to meal time.
- Keep a clean kitchen. Keeping your kitchen clean and tidy can reduce the chance of bacteria build-up.
- Keep raw foods separated from cooked and ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination.
- Carefully monitor and check best-before dates and package integrity of perishable products. Do not keep products beyond expiration date printed on the packaging.
- Keep separate cutting boards, utensils and platters for raw meat, poultry and seafood and for ready-to-eat/cooked foods.
- Keep cold foods cold (4°C or below).
- Keep hot foods hot (60°C or above).
- Keep a working meat thermometer on hand to check the internal temperatures of cooked foods. Always cook meat to the safe internal temperatures.
Please read all of the amazing information on their website and I can’t even begin to go into the amount of detail that they do.
I don’t normally buy “ready-to-cook” foods because of the amount of salt. But I think on the odd occasion, I would by the Dijon Mustard and Herb chicken breasts. They were very good. We also had potatoes and vegetables. Oh, and how could I forget…we started with their Demptster’s Over Fresh bread which they topped with garlic butter and cheese.
And the best part was we got to bring some chicken and bread home. My family loved it! We cooked the chicken and checked the temperature with the digital meat thermometre that they included.
You, my dear readers, get to get in on the chicken action as well. I have a gift cooler bag filled with bread, coupons, digital meat thermometre and other goodies to give away.