September 10, 2008


Supplier of Maple Leaf's slicers reviewing sanitation procedures

Formax Inc, the manufacturer of the slicing equipment that investigators said was the cause of a listeria outbreak that killed 13 people in Canada in recent weeks, said it is reviewing sanitation protocols on its S-180 slicers.


The contamination led to a massive recall of Maple Leaf deli meat products.


Internal and external investigators, including those from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, concluded that the bacteria most likely came from deep inside two of its machines.


Formax President and CEO David Brown said its technical experts are reviewing this equipment and operating manuals to confirm that all instructions are clear and effective for its operation maintenance and sanitation.


On its part, Maple Leaf is trying to blame the outbreak on a design fault by the company.


Maple Leaf CEO Michael McCain told the media that the bacteria accumulation was not discovered until the machines were fully dismantled, which he said went beyond normal cleaning procedures.


Maple Leaf has been using the slicers for 11 years. The model was introduced 13 years ago.

There are nearly 300 machines installed at processing plants throughout the world.


Brown said there has never been any serious food safety issue associated with any of its S-180 slicers.


However, Maple Leaf has also acknowledged that other environmental factors, not on product contact surfaces, may have contributed to the contamination.

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