Canadians seemed unfazed by new listeria discovery

Thu Oct 9, 2008 5:18pm EDT
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By Scott Anderson

TORONTO (Reuters) - Threats of food poisoning from sliced meats produced by a Maple Leaf Foods plant in Toronto seem to have done little to curb Canadians' fondness for deli-style sandwiches, even as the company reported it had found more listeria bacteria.

Maple Leaf halted production at the plant on Wednesday after investigators found four new samples of listeria in its meat products.

None of the products had gone on sale because the plant is operating under tight restrictions as health inspectors work to make sure the company has eliminated the source of a contamination earlier this summer that has been linked to 20 deaths.

But the news from Maple Leaf on Thursday was greeted more by shrugs than by fears, at least among the lunchtime crowd in Toronto.

"I don't have any fears at all. I think they have tested it enough and everything should be safe for the public," said Kunal Patel, a business consultant, who just purchased a submarine sandwich at a Mr. Sub shop in a downtown Toronto mall.

Many large fast-food chains, such as Tim Hortons, or privately held Mr. Sub or Subway moved quickly during the initial listeriosis scare, putting up signs at cash registers or at store entrances to assure customers that none of their meat products came from Maple Leaf.

Subway corporate offices in Connecticut were not available for comment but a Canadian franchisee said there had been little impact from the listeria scare.

"We didn't really have any products that were Maple Leaf products, but I think people in general are more careful now," said Paul Karam, a Subway franchise owner in Winnipeg, Manitoba.   Continued...