Maple Leaf Foods has delayed plans to re-open the factory that over the weekend was definitively linked to the listeria outbreak in Canada.
The company had planned to re-start production at the site in Toronto today (26 August) but said it is working with government health officials to determine what else needed to be done at the site before it could be re-opened.
Over the weekend, health officials confirmed a link between two products made at the facility and the listeriosis outbreak that has swept across Canada. As of Saturday, 21 cases of listeriosis had been confirmed and the same strain had been detected in four people who had died.
The news prompted Maple Leaf to expand the recall of products made at the Bartor Road facility to include all products made at the site.
Michael McCain, the company’s president and CEO, said the company was “deeply sorry”. He said: “This week, our best efforts delivering the highest-quality, safe food have failed us. Tragically, our products have been linked to illness and loss of life. To those people who are ill, and to the families who have lost loved ones, I offer my deepest and sincerest sympathies.”
The company also issued its estimate of the scandal’s financial impact on the business. Direct costs linked to the recall could reach C$20m (US$19m), Maple Leaf said, and the company warned it would could face more costs in marketing and advertising to restore trust among consumers.
Canadian health officials are continuing to investigate the outbreak and, with symptoms in some cases not emerging for up to 70 days, there is the possibility that the number of cases will rise.