Maple Leaf recalls more than 26,000 packages of wieners
TORONTO - More than 26,000 packages of wieners have been voluntarily recalled by Maple Leaf after thousands were mistakenly shipped throughout Eastern Canada despite some of the hot dogs testing positive for Listeria, Maple Leaf said Tuesday.
While the company said the risk to the public is extremely low, it added it was "clearly not acceptable" that some of the 450-gram packages of Shopsy's Deli Fresh All Beef Frankfurters and Maple Leaf Hot Dogs made it to market in Ontario, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
"In this particular case we had human error," said Michael McCain, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods (TSX:MFI).
"Product was released out of quarantine. It shouldn't have been.
"We've taken corrective action against both the individuals responsible and the situation."
The recall is another public relations blow to Maple Leaf, which has been dealing with the aftermath of one of the largest food-borne illnesses in Canadian history.
The company has agreed to pay up to $125,000 to individuals with serious and long-lasting physical injuries resulting from a listeriosis outbreak linked to one of its Toronto plants last summer.
The outbreak killed at least 20 people and triggered the largest meat recall in Canadian history.
Concerns about the hot dogs were raised when some of the products produced at a Hamilton plant tested positive for Listeria.
The company tests for all six types of Listeria even though only one -- Listeria monocytogenes -- is dangerous to human health. It was not clear what type of Listeria was responsible for the latest recall.
Instead of being held in quarantine pending further test results, the hot dogs were accidentally cleared for release, said spokeswoman Linda Smith. About 40 per cent of the shipment was then sent to stores.
It took about one week for the recall to be declared and it's expected all the remaining products will be back in the company's control by Wednesday, Smith said.
"Clearly this is unacceptable to us, given that we have extraordinarily stringent protocols and a culture of food safety," she said.
Since Listeria is so pervasive, positive test results are actually a good sign that Maple Leaf's safety scanning is working, McCain said in an interview.
"It's a bit of a leap of faith but I'm very hopeful that people will see this is actually a good news story, that these protocols and our commitment to those protocols result in action that years ago would never even have been detected, let alone acted upon."
No illnesses have been reported by anyone who consumed the hot dogs and the company said it's confident that the risk to human health is low.
Eating a contaminated hot dog would only be potentially dangerous if it was consumed uncooked, since cooking a wiener would kill the Listeria, Smith said.
Shopsy's Deli Fresh All Beef Frankfurters carrying the product code 20730 and UPC 6487520730, with a best before date of April 22 and 23, are affected by the recall.
The recalled Maple Leaf Hot Dogs Original products have product code 22356 with UPC 6310022356 and a best before date of April 23.
Consumers who purchased the products should call 1-800-568-5801 for more information about a refund or replacement.