In Canada, don’t battle the Tim: St. John’s food safety company loses billboard battle with Tim Hortons

I promote marketing microbial food safety, because some companies are better.

I’m just not sure how to do it, because I’m not a marketer.

petroformaBut someone should be able to figure it.

Canada’s largest coffee-and-doughnut chain has won a billboard battle with a St. John’s laboratory that promotes food safety.

Two billboards with similar imagery — but promoting completely different messages about food — were placed side-by-side on Commonwealth Avenue in Mount Pearl this week.

On the left was a sign promoting Tim Hortons’ Canadian Back Bacon Breakfast Sandwich, with an oversized photo of the product.

On the right was a billboard sponsored by Petroforma Laboratories, as part of its campaign to promote food safety, with a similar image of a burger.

The big difference? The message on the Petroforma billboard was “You can’t taste bacteria,” and the sign featured two “bacteria” peaking out from behind the burger.

That’s what motorists saw as as they drove past on Wednesday, June 17. But by Thursday morning, the Petroforma sign was gone and replaced with a Lasik MD Vision billboard.

The company that rents out the space, E.C. Boone Ltd., admitted Thursday that it made a mistake by placing the two signs next to one another.

A company official, Nathan Anthony, said E.C. Boone received a complaint from a Tim Hortons franchise owner, and quickly removed the Petroforma sign.

Petroforma CEO Mike Hanrahan was not impressed, telling CBC Radio’s On The Go he was offended by E.C. Boone’s response.

Hoped for a more co-operative approach

Hanrahan said it was a case of a large company flexing its muscle, at the expense of a local laboratory trying to raise awareness about the dangers that can be found in kitchens, including food pathogens like Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria.

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, 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, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time