In the summer of 2008 there was a listeriosis outbreak affecting people in several provinces across Canada. By the end of outbreak in December 2008 there were 57 confirmed cases and 22 deaths. The source of the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria that caused the outbreak were from two Maple Leaf Foods’ production lines at the Bartor Road packaging plant in Toronto, Ontario. The affected products were ready-to-eat sliced cold cuts packaged under the Sure Slice brand and these products were shipped across Canada. Maple Leaf Foods had instated a voluntary recall when suspicion that the outbreak was linked to their plant arose; upon confirming the link, they expanded the recall to all products from the Bartor Road facility. Listeria monocytogenes, the bacteria that causes listerosis is widespread in the environment and growth is supported on a variety of foods during handling or packaging as shown in Figure 1. Shortfalls in the food safety system at Maple Leaf contributed to the outbreak and recommendations for improvements to the system are necessary as part of a public inquiry.
The food safety system at Maple Leaf and regulatory agencies needs to be studied for shortfalls and recommendations for improvements to prevent a similar incident.
The teaching objective of this case is to analyze aspects of food safety related to the Maple Leaf listeria outbreak in 2008. Microbiological and pathologic aspects of food will also be covered in the case study. The case study will be used to explore Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP), a system that analyzes potential hazards in food production. The case study can be delivered as a lecture to promote class discussion as well as for individual or group study or as an assignment. The case study is intended and developed for use in CHE 564 Food Process Engineering.