Brand intact after food poisoning—so far

Maple Leaf Foods shows how a company should handle crisis communication. Video

Maple Leaf Foods shows how a company should handle crisis communication

Maple Leaf Foods has fallen on hard times.

Tainted meat from the Toronto-based company has killed 12 people and sickened dozens in Canada. As a result, its stock price dropped. The company recalled tons of meat, costing it more than $20 million. Even China has stopped purchasing meat from the company.

It’s not just a health crisis, but a disaster for the Maple Leaf brand.

Yet the company and its brand remain afloat thanks in large part to strong communications. Michael McCain, the company’s president of 13 years, has spent the last several weeks accepting blame for the tragedy and apologizing to victims.

“Certainly knowing that there is a desire to assign blame, I want to reiterate that the buck stops right here,” McCain said during a press conference. “This week, it’s our best efforts that failed, not the regulators or the Canadian food safety system. I emphasize: This is our accountability and it’s ours to fix, which we are taking on fully.”

The meat was tainted by a rather common bacterium called listeria, which was linked to one Maple Leaf processing plant in Toronto.

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