Who’s to blame: Ottawa salmonella-in-Lunch-Lady-lasagna edition

When a sports team fails, some players are shipped to the minors, maybe some assistant coaches, then the coach and eventually the person who made all those hires in the first place – the general manager.

I’m thinking of you, Toronto Maple Leafs (see the extremely vulgar, funny and accurate Leafs Beefs at www.leafsbeefs.com).

The immune-at-the-top philosophy also extends to food service, as the owner of the Ottawa franchise of The Lunch Lady, which provides meals to schools in dozens of Canadian communities, proclaimed today that an employee had been fired after not following proper food handling procedures.

With 50 people sick from salmonella, it’s too little, too late. Any food service operation should know they are only as good as their worst employee.

Jonathan Morris, who runs an Ottawa franchise, confirmed the news in a letter to parents Tuesday.

"The Lunch Lady Group guidelines on handling raw meat and poultry were not properly followed by one individual," the statement read. "This person had the responsibility for ensuring that safe food handling guidelines were followed to the letter. This person is no longer working in my kitchens."

Morris said the salmonella outbreak can be tracked to ground beef used in preparing the catered meals.

The boss sets the tone. And not just Morris. The Lunch Lady herself has said her franchises have strict food procurement, storage and handling guidelines, but has yet to provide any evidence, at least not publicly.

And if ground beef was the source of the salmonella, where did the beef originate? Where are those federal inspectors and veterinarians who are so necessary to ensure food safety?

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of barfblog.com, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, barfblog.com retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 dpowell29@gmail.com 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time