Research on a Colossal Crisis of Maple Leaf Foods

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The report portrays the information about a colossal crisis occurred in the history of the Maple Leaf Foods, which shook the company to its foundations. In 2008, there were 22 deaths from the consumption of contaminated meat prepared by Maple Leaf Foods due to L. monocytogenes (listeria) bacteria. The analysis of the crisis was considered on the basis of four costs of quality, including appraisal cost, prevention cost, internal failure cost and external failure cost. Further more the after thorough inspection the company found out that the source of listeriosis was slicing equipment. This repost will also explain the preventive measure took by the company to solve this problem. It was also observed through out the assignment that the president of the Maple Leaf Foods took whole responsibility of the situation and the way he dealt it by going to number of conferences and genuinely asking pleading for forgiveness from both customers and the key stakeholders, it was considered commendable as well as very brave and bold. He also influenced a lot of companies for dealing this kind of absurd situations which cause either life or property (or both) loss with complete transparency and honesty towards customer and their shareholders with apologizing and fixing the devastation caused by crisis completely, removing it if possible as what Michael McCain did by shutting down his plant near Toronto that gave arise to this crisis.

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The maple leaf foods considered to be one of the largest food processing company in Canada went through a huge crisis in the summers of 2008 in which 22 deaths were accounted due to listeriosis by there meat product. This caused the company $30 million due to deaths. After inspection and evaluation company found out a deadly bacterium in one of there plant near Toronto, ON Canada. This lead to the recall of 234 meat products utterly destroying the reputation in global market. Moreover, the its competition took this situation as a great opportunity to settle there roots deeper in the market as their toughest competitor was out of the picture for time being. Researchers and doctors concluded that bacteria of listeria cause the victim high fever, nausea, diarrhoea and muscle aches. When the situation becomes dire for the patient it causes collapsing and producing shock in their body which can lead to certain death. Even for a pregnant lady who is suffering from listeriosis can cause her to have premature delivery, death of infant in womb and infection in both lady’s womb as well as in baby. After carrying out thorough inspection by the company it was concluded that the region of the bacteria was at slicing equipment due to contamination by unregular sanitation. This caused the evolution of the listeriosis bacteria to such an uncontrollable high level which lead to the deaths of people. The deli meat made by Toronto plant, which was dole out to hospitals was examined with containing the traces of listeriosis bacteria.

The classification of the key dates for the outbreak were from February-July (2008), after conducting some test the random samples were found which have traces of listeriosis bacteria. Then, listeria tests where carried out on the sample that were positive at Toronto plant. In June 3, first case of human sickness was discovered who was suffering from listeriosis. Whereas, In June 17 and July 10, identification of disease was done with DNA fingerprinting and there was first death caused by listeria bacteria was confirmed respectively. In July18, company devised an inspection party for finding the root cause of the contamination and with thorough inspection they did found out the source, slicing equipment. Eleven samples from Toronto care was sent to the testing labs for listeria testing in July 22 and after testing Ontario Public Health units in July 29 specified that more that double the samples were positive in listeria testing, which was shocking for the company and it gave a devastating blow to its reputation. In next moth of August 4, many of the samples were tested positive with listeriosis. In August 7 Canadian Food Inspection Agency carried out an inspection of whole lot throughout several provinces and came to know that DNA fingerprinting are matching to the Listeriosis this happened in August 12. By the half way of August from 13 to 16, Maple Leaf Foods halted their specific shipments containing traces of listeriosis contamination as well as the Canadas Food Inspection Agency finalized the inspection result by confirming the presence of Monocytogenes (Listeriosis bacteria) in the sample in their inspection report.

The sudden recollection of the distributed deli meat by Maple Leaf Foods portrayed their image as a company which foresees the interest of people and their safety without considering financial cost caused by crisis. The president of the company said that this tainted event that shook the company to its core is considered to be awful in the history of the Maple Leaf Foods. The sales of the company were dropped by 30% due to this crisis. However, despite all the loss the company stood strong by admitting their mistake and pushed themselves forward for the recovery of the losses they have paved on path of their crisis. The company adopted different communication tactics like the guilt apology video of the president of the Maple Leaf Foods Michael McCain claiming the full responsibility of the situation. This showed in the world that the company is being fully transparent toward the customers and their health. The president of the company initiated plenty of press conferences about the crisis. The videos of all the conferences and apologies were uploaded to the Maple Leaf Foods website and are still there. This bold move in showing their honesty towards the customers and their key stakeholders by the company assisted them in attaining back their lost reputation in the eyes of customer and in the global market

Maple Leaf Foods discharged Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), backgrounders providing brief information about the background work and fact sheets, which were used for the description of the 2008 listeriosis issue cased by slicing equipment for providing more transparency of the dilemma. Many critics stated there claim about apology by stating that the confessions made by the Maple Leaf Foods are legit and are demonstrated in such a bold way which will influence the global market as well as companies in future to carry out this honest apology procedure towards the customer in response of dire crisis or critical situations.

In late 2008, Maple Leaf Foods was successful in re-establishing its reputation in the market. It took them around 12 months to get back on track as well as flagging their leadership in the global market for the sale of small scale goods. The company kept on updating their official site with more and more information about the listeriosis bacteria, list of recalled products and contact information for both customers and shareholders for asking any question about quality or the product which they deem relevant. Furthermore, the Maple Leaf Foods made another brave move by shutting down there Bartor Road Plant, Toronto. This lead to increase in faith of the customer and stakeholders towards the company.

Maple Leaf Food grouped together the Canada’s finest food safety experts, consisting of authorized personnel from CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) and PHAC (Public Health Agency of Canada). This collaboration of the experts with expertise on their field lead to the establishment of number of preventive and sanitization measures by keeping in mind customers safety as first priority, like six types of in-depth sanitations were carried out by the company with the help of experts (with the assistance of microbiologists and sanitation experts). Whereas, for slicing equipment which was the root cause of the whole crisis, it was dismantled daily and deep cleaning with multiple tests verifying the contamination of the equipment was executed daily. This also helped the company in eradication of possible harborage areas of the equipment. Additionally, a full out inspection was carried out by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency before the distribution of the new products, that made sure that everything was up to standard and quality requirements by considering customers heath and safety. Moreover, the president Michael McCain took a band of reports for a tour of the newly settled plant showing them all the equipment and providing them with brief description of the facilities safety measures for providing and maintaining good quality product. By this action he portrayed companies’ good intensions towards the customer and shareholders as well as for global market. Due to this gesture Maple Leaf Foods was able to redeem itself from the crisis as well as again attaining market confidence and market share.

The causalities (victims) of the crisis were given compensations by the company for regaining its reputation. After announcing the new products coming to the market by considering them to be safe, they launched a lot of media campaigns in which the experts were working at the new plant situated in Toronto by serving foods to people including children. Also, Maple Leaf Foods launched for providing all the necessary information about the new launched products with types of quality inspections and sanitization procedures done on them. Media and advertisement also played an important role in build trust and faith of the customer on the company again, those were considered as trust-building campaigns by Maple Leaf Foods.

The company after overcoming the from the crisis deemed themselves as worthy to be experts on listeriosis. They also created a course for the study of listeria and illness caused by it. Which in return also increased the reputation of the company in the field of food producers in Canada. McCain said that they will remain honest and transparent as long as they are in business with the customers and key stakeholders.

A lot can be learned from the outbreak of the Listeriosis in Maple Leaf Food. First and foremost is use a spokesman with outstanding ability to be honest, cunning and quick to react in tense situations like as for current study when the outbreak occurred Michael McCain without wasting any time came up front to deal the situation and tell his side of the story about crisis to customers, media and key stakeholders. Then apologizing personally on mainstream about the dire event that occurred due to there contaminated product as well as taking its full responsibility. Moreover, he took number of preventive measures and created new strategies to deal with the outbreak and overcome it with the assistance of experts from both CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) and PHAC (Public Health Agency to Canada). Maple Leaf Foods next step was to reach out to the customers and their stake holders to give them appropriate message about the situation and preventions they undertook to deal the situation. The company’s consistency in providing correct message with relevant information about the crisis and their admittance to the seriousness of the situation lead to escalation of trust and faith in customer for there organization. This also assisted them in regaining their lost reputation in the global marked as well as in the heart of the customers.


For finalization of the report it can be said that Maple leaf foods handled the outbreak in very sorted and up-front manner, which assisted the company in regaining its reputation. The sudden response to the outbreak gave them right opportunity for handling of the crisis. Michael McCain, the president of Maple Leaf Foods played a very important and crucial part in solving and fixing the situation of listeriosis. His honest and transparent approach to the problem gave the company other chance to metamorphose fundamentally broken organization to the leading food producer again in the Canada. The hardships Maple Leaf Foods faced due to the outbreak made them realize that even an equipment if not maintained properly will cause fatalities. So, after finding the root cause of the crisis which was a slicing equipment contaminated with L. monocytogenes (listeria) bacteria sex types of sanitation on it was carried out with groups of experts from CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) and PHAC (Public Health Agency of Canada). The company was fully transparent throughout the process of fixing the problem and sanitization and they still are which can be observed on there official site. They have even stared a course on listeriosis to create awareness among the customers and the illness it can cause. The way they handled the situation and getting through it with flying colours, it was considered as a bold act as well as announcing their competitors about there credibility as an organization with customers. A lot of companies were surprized by there imminent arrival to the market with new concrete foundations. They characterized themselves competent organization in the history of Canada food industries by being honest and transparent to all media, customer and key stakeholders. This was liked by many critics and companies out there in the market, by acknowledging this approach they strived for the same approach of being genuine and transparent to the customers.

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