Canadians who had symptoms of listeriosis after eating contaminated deli meats from Maple Leaf Foods last year have until Nov. 2 to file for a share of a $25 million compensation fund.

The compensation fund is for victims and their survivors of the 2008 Listeria outbreak that killed 22 mostly elderly Canadians.

The estates of the dead will receive $120,000 in addition to amounts given to immediate family. The compensation fund expects to provide $750 for individuals who experienced symptoms for 24 to 48 hours. 

Those with long-term complications could receive up to $125,000.

The fund was created by an out-of-court settlement with Maple Leaf Foods with the approval of Quebec Superior Court.

A Quebec consumer group says claims can be filed without receipts or copies of medical records.

Hundreds across Canada became sick in the outbreak from the nationally distributed deli meats.

Fifty-seven were very seriously ill, and 22 died from complications due to Listeriosis. The Listeria bacteria were eventually traced back to the Maple Leaf Foods plant on Bartor Road in Toronto.

Maple Leaf was forced to recall 220 of its deli meat products that were sold between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31, 2008.

The first illness associated with the Listeria outbreak was recorded on June 3, 2008, but the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) did not confirm Listeria Monocytogenes in Maple Leaf products until Aug. 16, 2008–more than two months later.

An independent report said it took three weeks for all government agencies to begin working together on the outbreak and even then the effort was “muddled in confusion.”

The federal government recently said it would enact all 57 recommendations made by its independent investigator. The government has promised to:

  • Hire 166 new food safety staff, including 70 new food inspectors
  • Make health risk assessment teams available to support food safety investigations on a 24/7 basis  (There was no team available for the Listeria outbreak because they were off for the summer.)
  • Improve communications with the public during outbreaks
  • Improve tracking of potential food borne illness outbreaks through a national surveillance system
  • Improve detection methods for listeriosis
  • Initiate an independent audit to ensure the food inspection system is working as well as possible
  • Canada’s chief public health officer will take a lead role during foodborne illness outbreaks
  • All totaled, the federal government is spending  $75 million (Canadian) on implementing the recommendations. 

Canada has seen a doubling in the number of Listeria cases since 2005.

Claim forms are available by calling (800) 801-2521.