Many Canadians not eating Maple Leaf meats since listeriosis scare: poll

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By Linda Nguyen , Canwest News ServiceMarch 24, 2009



Nearly half of Canadian consumers say they haven’t eaten Maple Leaf meats since the company was linked with last summer’s listeriosis outbreak that killed 20 people, suggests a poll released Tuesday.

The survey, conducted over a two-week period in February by the University of Regina, asked 971 people about their eating habits and the major Canadian food processor, six months after the company was forced to issue a massive, nationwide recall on tainted meats.

The poll found that just over 40 per cent of survey respondents who said they were aware of the nationwide cold-meats recall have not eaten Maple Leaf Foods products since the outbreak. It was unclear whether this group had eaten these meats before the recall, researchers said.

The survey also found that just under 70 per cent of those who participated said the Toronto-based company handled the recall “very well” or “well.”

Of those who said they had been aware of the recall, 37 per cent said they believe Maple Leaf Foods were “just as safe” now, compared to before the recall. Twelve per cent said the foods were “safer” than ever before.

Ninety per cent of those surveyed also said they had heard about the recall, but had varying degrees of knowledge on what particular products had been affected.

The listeriosis outbreak is believed to have started with two meat slicers at a Maple Leaf Foods plant in Toronto. It’s believed the slicers were harbouring the potentially deadly bacterium, listeria monocytogenes.

Listeriosis, which can result from the bacterium, is a food-borne illness that’s particularly threatening to infants, pregnant women and the elderly.

Last week, Quebec Superior Court was presented a $25-million, out-of-court settlement for people who ate or bought contaminated Maple Leaf Foods deli meats last year.

The settlement, which must be approved by a judge, has already been presented in court in Ontario and Saskatchewan.



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