After Maple Leaf cold-cuts killed 22 people in Canada last year in a Listeria outbreak, the company is launching a revamped Website, which includes a new “food safety at home” section that shows consumers how they can take foodborne illness prevention into their own hands.
“There’s lots we can do and are doing to become a global food safety leader and it’s our job to make food as safe as possible, but there’s also lots that consumers can do to further protect themselves and their families and practice good food safety,” said Maple Leaf’s CEO, Michael McCain, in a blog post last week.
McCain cited polling data that showed 70 percent of Canadians wanted more food safety information and 75 percent wanted that information via the Web as Maple Leaf’s primary reason for its new food safety Web outreach.
According to McCain the company’s new Website offers a “huge leap forward in reaching consumers” by providing interactive food safety advice.
Food scientist Doug Powell, of Kansas State University, an expert in food safety communication was unimpressed by the development.
“After the Jack in the Box E. coli O157: H7 outbreak of 1993, the one that placed microbial food safety on American TV diner plates, the company hired Dave Theno and developed an industry leading food safety program,” blogged Dr. Powell.
A year after the Maple Leaf outbreak, “the company announced it has launched a new Web site and that consumers need to do more,” added Powell. “Companies like Jack in the Box recovered because they did the right thing–and didn’t blame consumers.”
Maple Leaf’s food safety site outlines actions the company has taken to improve food safety including improving sanitation, doubling environmental testing, increasing food testing, and strengthening recall procedures.
Maple Leaf’s food safety action plan also emphasizes the role of the consumer in preventing foodborne illness.
“While we take steps in our own plants to make safe, great tasting food, we encourage you to take precautions as well when you are preparing, cooking, and storing food at home.”