Canadians can go back to sleep; Maple Leaf Foods is profitable again

Some American colleagues have said killing 22 customers with deli-meat would have led to a non-existent company. Not so in Canada, where $5.5 billion companies like Maple Leaf Foods can say with a straight face that listeria presented new challenges in the ready-to-eat food category.

Maple Leaf has been praised for its communication activities in the aftermath of the listeria outbreak last fall, but instead of taking a real leadership role they have fallen back on the tired and true – their stock went up, so everyone is happy.

Specifically, Maple Leaf has failed to provide point-of-sale warnings to at-risk populations like pregnant women and old folks, failed to publicly release listeria test data and failed to promote their food safety efforts at retail, to enhance the food safety culture back at the producer and processor level, and to build consumer confidence. A completely blown opportunity.

Well done: be aggressively mediocre. That’s how to get brownie points in Canada.