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Monday, May 24, 2010

maple leaf round table event and great giveaway!


Maple Leaf Foods contacted me as they teamed up with Matchstick a word of mouth marketing company based in Toronto and where I met fellow friend Sumaya from Matchstick who invited me along with other fab fellow bloggers to attend a round table event in Vancouver for an opportunity to sit down for a meet and greet with the company responsible for killing 23 individuals and causing illness to others due to listeriosis (a bacteria found in common every day life) from one of their meat packing plants.

Well of course I jumped at the chance!

If you don't remember what happened during the recall of Maple Leaf Foods.  Here's a video from CEO Michael McCain after the horrible incident occurred where he apologized on behalf of Maple Leaf Foods, something I felt even back then impressive to see such a large corporation take responsibility immediately for something of this magnitude.

Although Mr. McCain showed his sympathies for the families who lost loved ones, and Maple Leaf then launched a campaign to become Global leaders in Food Safety.  I still had questions I wanted answered.  So did my readers.

Questions such as:

How did this happen?

How did the food become contaminated?

What is Listeriosis?  How can we prevent this from happening again?

And what measures is Maple Leaf Foods taking to make sure something like this doesn't happen again, so that we as Canadians can feel confident in what we feed our children and ourselves?

The event was held at the Quince Cooking School in Vancouver, BC where Chef John introduces us to Maple Leaf's commitment to their $12 million dollar project "THINK FOOD" an investment into their culinary division, an impressive 25,000 square foot building where they collaborate and do recipe testing, food safety, retail environment and more.

At the event were  Jeanette Jones Vice President, Communications for Maple Leaf and Sharon Beais Senior VP, Food Safety & Quality Assurance.  Here is a shot of the table of wonderful bloggers as Sharon started the discussion with us on Maple Leaf's global commitment to Food Safety and all the changes that have come into play since the recall and some of our questions were answered.

Biggest Question How did the contamination happen?

Basically to break it down, one of the meat slicers had a seal on it.  The seal was not to be broken or it would be a breach of the manufacturer's warranty.  Well - they broke the seal.  They broke the seal and discovered a small notch behind it the size of a quarter that was the perfect host for small pieces of meat to slip into after pressure washing and begin to breed.

Sharon continued answering questions from all of us, though in my mind I was thinking "Wow it was a simple manufacturer defect" which they could have easily blamed the manufacturer for the fault of the outbreak, but instead Maple Leaf took charge with sincerity and have committed themselves to being leaders in Global Food Safety.

We were served yummy bread made with garlic butter and asiago cheese, which I've never had before but it was delicious.  We even got to take some home with us which tickled me.  My boys love garlic bread and the cool thing about this bread from Dempster's is that it only needs to be kept in a cool dry place, not the fridge or freezer, it's vacuum sealed for freshness!  Gotta love that, eh?

Sharon is a mom, like many of us.  Her family and children are important to her and she believed in Maple Leaf's commitment to make things "right" and improve their plants globally not just for themselves but to lead the way for other companies that deal with food-borne illnesses on a daily basis.  Yes it happens, whether we like to think it does or not.  She believed so much that she moved her family to Toronto to help lead the way.

So what does it mean Maple Leaf's Global Food Safety Commitment?

To become the first company in Canada to become (GFSI) certified with a goal that by 2012 all companies in the food industry will follow suit.

To continue living up to their standards as Food Safety leaders through intensive training procedures, new work station safety and protocols, implementation of a hotline for employees if they suspect something not right at the plant they work at.

To be Audit ready every day,  daily reporting examined of each plant, audit reports on plant management and numbers regarding maintenance and food safety practices.

To ensure the highest regard for consumers, their safety, their concerns and to help other companies with the same, to reach out and answers questions regarding consumers concerns and ensure nothing like this will ever happen again for either themselves or anyone else.

After some of our questions were answered, we took a break and enjoyed this lovely meal prepared for us by the Quince students and Chef John.  Maple Leaf prime chicken with roasted red peppers, portobello mushrooms and Swiss cheese.  It was absolutely divine!  

I really enjoyed this event, learning about Maple Leaf's commitment to consumers and I feel better knowing that their standards of safety were NOT breached.  What happened to them could have happened to any company and they took full and sincere responsibility for the incident and are paving the way to lead their company and others like them in the food processing industry to higher standards with safer procedures at the end of the day.

I met some wonderful people and fellow bloggers during the event.  Left Coast Mama, Monkee Mama, Give Love Create Happiness, The Shoeless Mommy, The Dadjam, Can I get the recipe? and the Tsunami Mommy, Crunchy Carpets and others.

It was fun to interact, get everyone's feedback, enjoy dinner and conversation and get the low down on a company I grew up knowing and food I enjoyed eating from Maple Leaf Food's.


Maple Leaf has been generous and left with me some goodies to offer as a giveaway for you (my readers) which includes a digital meat thermometer, coupons for their prime meat selection, their delicious packed freshed and resealable all natural meat, an apron, Dempster's vacuum sealed and tasty baguettes in multi-grain and white and a THINK FOOD cooler bag!

To enter all you have to do is leave me a comment on what you think about Maple Leaf Food's!

This giveaway is open to all Canadian residents and will close May 31st, 2010.  The winner will be chosen using and announced June 1st.  Please make sure you leave your email in the comment form so I can contact you.

Disclaimer: I'd like to thank Matchstick and Maple Leaf Foods for allowing me to participate in this blog event.  Photos are courtesy of Give Love Create Happiness, take a trip over to visit her blog post now.



Susan Margaret on May 24, 2010 at 3:52 PM said...

I have always been a huge fan of Maple Leaf. Even during the issue that happened in 2007, I didn't lose faith in Maple Leaf. I knew that they would do everything they could to rectify the situation and work hard to ensure it never happened again.

I'm pleased to see that they are working hard to encourage proper food handling and that they don't shy away from what happened in the past.

Kudos to Maple Leaf!

charmtime at gmail dot com

soaringbree said...

I grew up eating Maple Leaf foods and fed it to my kids. When the recall happened I was upset but when I saw the comittment they made to making things better, I was impressed. I am happy to see they are working toward the future and sorry for what they did.

edmontonjb on May 25, 2010 at 9:44 AM said...

Ohh, I love those Dempsters OvenFresh products! I've always enjoyed Maple Leaf products and hopefully the listeria incident has helped all food companies improve their practices.


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