Following three separate discoveries of syringe casings at the company’s Kitchener, Ontario, meat processing plant, Maple Leaf Foods has completed the voluntary recall of various pre-cooked meat products and increased security at the manufacturing plant, and a police investigation has been launched.
Syringe casings without needles were found on 24 October, 2 November and 3 November. Syringes are commonly used at the facility for analytical testing purposes, however, the company said that the syringe casings found were different from those used at the site. One case was found visibly embedded in a ham as part of a routine visual product inspection.
Tests have confirmed that the syringes found on 24 October and 3 November contained a saline solution, while the casing found on 2 November contained a residual amount of Heparin Lock Flush Solution, a saline solution containing Heparin, a common blood thinner used in a variety of medical applications. Maple Leaf emphasised that medical opinion confirms there is no risk to human health associated with ingesting Heparin.
“Food safety is our paramount concern. Our Schneider’s plant in Kitchener is a great facility with a strong tradition of product quality. We are proud of the people and the products. Our employees are outraged at these events and are cooperating fully with the investigation,” said Michael McCain, president and CEO. “We are confident that this recall has been conducted swiftly and efficiently, and that we have shown the highest level of due diligence.”
Increased security measures have been imposed at the site, including greater levels of employee supervision, enhanced visual inspections, metal detection of all products, x-ray technology, security cameras and a confidential employee phone line.
The products recalled include Kent Smoked Hams, Schneider’s Lifestyle Fat Free Cooked Ham Sliced, Schneider’s Lifestyle Fat Free Turkey & Ham Sliced, Schneider’s Lifestyle Fat Free Smoked Ham.
Following the recall the company has received more than 900 calls from customers and to date there has been no evidence of illness or tampered products.
The company is cooperating fully with a police investigation into the tampering.