Listeria Hysteria "Worker says meat plant filthy": Maple Leaf Foods
Certainly this new allegation will not bode well considering the pending lawsuits against Maple Leaf Foods from Victims of Listeria which has been linked to the 15 deaths of consumers and counting.
Listeria can take months to show symptoms to show up after eating the contaminated food, making it hard to tie in the food eaten to any particular source, such as from who, and where the contamination came from. That may be Maple Leaf Foods defence when lawsuits result in a court of law.
Listeria can be a hidden killer and time bomb affecting mostly the elderly, children, pregnant women and anyone with an immune deficiency. Listeria a bacteria found in animal feces has been reported worldwide, and may result in more deaths or illnesses.
Maple Leaf Foods a Canadian Monopoly has been accused of lax quality control by workers and consumers alike. Funny, how a cup of bleach, say worth a few pennies could have averted a disaster, but workers on the other hand cost more, and perhaps worker mentality of perhaps "It's Not my Job", it's coffee break break time, or another excuse may have contributed to it.
We used to have worker ethics 2 decades ago, now it seems with frequent food recalls all over, that surely that ethic is lacking.
One contaminated animal on the process line can contaminate any meat which passes after along the assembly line.
Comments range from stricter controls and testing to using several local independent abbattoirs instead of one or two large Maple Leaf owned and operated process facilities.
By using several abbottoirs, this would have at least contained the listeria outbreak to a local abbatoir instead of an entire Nations.
The fault can lie with not only the company, but human complacency in that workers can be faulted with laziness, as they too, especially long time workers knew full well the dirty conditions and did nothing about it.
Some may have brought it to managements attention, it may have been ignored, but in due diligence, it should have been actioned and cleaned for our safety, either by union demands, employee demands, or company demands.
I also blame provincial and federal Health Inspectors as well, because clearly if they cannot use a flashlight, glove test, swab test, or bend their Fat Asses down to inspect machinery, clearly they should be fired.
Clearly by this story it was not, and now negative media attention on a "Iconic Canadian Meat company will suffer the consequences by Consumers, which may see Maple Leaf Foods hit the "killing floor" as lawsuits of insurmountable proportions may be realised.
Maple Leaf will pay for these Lawsuits, on the backs of workers who ignored safety and hygiene, employee non diligence in protecting our foods will surely hit the unemployment lines due to a today's Mantra of "It's not my job mentality", when clearly it is everyones job to ensure the food we eat won't kill us.
For Now Public readers, many who do not know or have ever seen a Abbattoir Killing Floor or Meat Processing Plant and Meat Process Equipment.
I have posted photos (Not Maple Leaf Foods Abbattoirs) but similar operations from other abbattoirs for viewing. Some of these photos are not for the faint of heart, but tell you what is involved and how easy it can be to contaminate your food if not careful in skinning an animal and knicking it's intestines with a knife, resulting in a spillage of feces on a process table which if not cleaned and sanitized will contaminate the next carcass as well and every other carcass after that.
Meat cutters are not tasked to clean feces spillage on the table for obvious reasons as food handlers, this task falls to the decontamination staff most likely are alerted to decontaminate any feces spillage immediately before any other carcass is processed.
Resulting in an entire process line being contaminated with feces as it passes from one stage to the next all the way to your dinner table.
And if I were the company president, firing the lot of them for laziness, I would not feel sorry for those employees who let us down.
Because when it comes down to it, the President who hired workers to ensure our safety, will now fall on the corporate sword, and bleed by the hands of others paid to do a job, but didn't. "Et tu, Brutus" would be an accurate assessment.
Below is my previous Op/ed piece on Consumer Groups charging Maple Leaf and the Feds were not doing enough to protect consumers.
Todays story and source below
August 30, 2008
Worker says meat plant filthy, But Maple Leaf denies claims machines not properly cleaned
By AMY CHUNG, SUN MEDIA
Workers at the Maple Leaf Foods plant linked to a fatal, nationwide listeria outbreak cut corners when they cleaned food processing machines, a longtime employee claims.
"They haven't cleaned some of the machines' (interiors) in four, five years," said the worker, who asked to remain anonymous.
Machines used to process meat at the plant on Bartor Rd. in North York haven't received a thorough scrubbing until this week, after the listeria outbreak, he told the Sun.
"When they opened the (machine) lid (this week), it smelled like hell," he said. Public health officials are reviewing 15 deaths - nine of which have already been tied to the outbreak - and more than 40 cases of illness they suspect are linked to meat products processed at the plant.
Maple Leaf issued a massive recall of its products following the outbreak and shut down the North York plant. This week, half the plant's 300 workers went back to sanitize production lines, and media and TV crews were invited in to watch.
While the machines were cleaned daily at the plant prior to the outbreak, the whistleblower suggested daily cleaning procedures were not consistently followed or thorough enough.
The Maple Leaf worker also claimed a shoestring night staff only manages to clean "what they see" and the production line where the recalled corned and roast beef were handled was not always cleaned thoroughly.
"They clean the surface, but not underneath. You can see the dust and meat sitting on it," he said. For thorough sanitization, the slicing machines should have been occasionally disassembled and deep cleaned, the worker insisted.
"They should get a flashlight and look inside. It was terrible -- leftover meat -- the smell," he said, recalling what happened when workers did completely disassemble the machines this week.
What they found inside were the gritty, pasty remains of leftover meat.
"We used so much chlorine to kill the bacteria, my eyes were burning," he said. Maple Leaf spokesman Linda Smith rejected the suggestion workers cut corners while cleaning and said employees at the plant in fact have "exceeded" the manufacturer's sanitization processes for all the equipment.
"This is a highly sanitized facility," Smith said. "I can tell you that they do daily sanitization and 3,000 environmental swabs in the microbiology lab that are verified by external sources.
" The United Food Commercial Workers Canada, the union representing Maple Leaf workers, says it has never received a complaint about health and safety at the plant.
Listeria is a common bacteria found in soil, vegetation, sewage, water and the feces of animals and humans. Listeria bacteria can also be found in unpasteurized dairy products, raw vegetables and meats.
Young children, pregnant women and the elderly are most vulnerable to illness. It is not clear whether the federal government requires meat processing equipment to be regularly disassembled and thoroughly cleaned as part of normal procedures.
The Sun repeatedly asked spokesmen at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) yesterday what specific sanitation procedures are mandatory, but the agency could not provide a specific answer.
Maybe the onus is on Canadians to look after themselves, if we as paying consumers and taxpayers cannot trust Iconic Companies and Governments to protect us.
For over a decade, Consumer Groups, Local Farmers and Media have been warning us about our food supply and it's safety being in jeopardy, and unfortunately we may not have been listening, till now when it hits so close to home.
Below are my past op/eds from last year from the National media, perhaps now a wake up call is in order for Canadians to be informed and look out for Number #1, "Ourselves" !!!