When the independent report of the investigation into Canada’s 2008 Listeria outbreak came out last summer, Maple Leaf Foods came in for its share of the blame.

After all, it was the meat slicers at its ready-to-eat meat plant in Toronto that ultimately spread the bacteria across Canada, killing 22 mostly elderly Canadians.

But when the report by Sheila Weatherill, with its 57 recommendations, was made public; Maple Leaf CEO Michael McCain praised it as exceptionally thorough and comprehensive.

McCain then pledged that Maple Leaf would draw on ongoing advancements in food safety knowledge and technology in Canada and around the globe in being a strong advocate for food safety.

While that’s the kind of rhetoric one might expect out of a company that has just been responsible for a national tragedy, Maple Leaf keeps taking steps that just might fulfill that pledge.

Its latest move is the appointment of an independent Food Safety Advisory Council.

The council will review Maple Leaf’s safety strategy, provide insights into emerging global food safety risks, and provide guidance on employee education and training.

“The primary mandate of the council is to challenge the status quo of Maple Leaf’s food safety program so we continue to raise the bar ever higher,” said Randy Huffman, chief food safety officer.

Serving on the panel will be:  Dr. Harvey Anderson, University of Toronto; Professor Colin Dennis, from the International Agri-Technology Centre; and Dr. Mansel Griffiths, director of the Canadian Research Institute for Food Safety and chair of the Masters Program in Food Safety at the University of Guelph.

Dr. R. Bruce Tompkin and John Weisgerber, former director of quality for a “major” North American meat processor, will also be on the board.

“These individuals bring immense food safety knowledge to the council and will support our commitment to becoming a global food safety leader,” Huffman added.