MISSISSAUGA – Maple Leaf Foods, Inc. (TSX: MFI) President and CEO Michael McCain today issued a statement to update the company’s efforts to respond to COVID-19:
“As a major food company in an essential industry, Maple Leaf Foods is doing everything possible to protect the health of our 13,000 team members while producing the food our customers in North America and Asia need now more than ever.
Today, we are suspending operations in our Brampton Poultry plant in Brampton, Ontario, out of an abundance of caution while we complete an investigation into three COVID cases that have occurred with people working at that facility. Our first priority is to keep our people safe so the decision was made to shut down the facility, pending a full risk assessment. While we complete the investigation, we are deep cleaning the plant including common areas and offices. Our goal is to complete the investigation and the deep cleaning as quickly as reasonably possible. We will not begin operating again until we are confident that it is safe to return to work.
An additional COVID case has occurred in a team member at our Heritage plant in Hamilton, Ontario. The affected team member had not been present at the plant for two weeks before the diagnosis. We’ve completed thorough sanitation at Heritage and the plant is fully operating.
Throughout our network, we are taking many steps to protect our people. In addition to our normal, thorough daily sanitation in our plants and the use of our standard Personal Protective Equipment that helps ensure food safety and protects the health of our people, we are taking additional steps, including:
- Increased, frequent sanitation of all common areas like breakrooms, washrooms, locker rooms and cafeterias
- Careful social distancing through increased spacing on production lines where possible
- Staggered breaks and shifts to prevent groups from forming
- Conversion of offices to break rooms and the use of trailers to decrease the density of our people during breaks
- Phasing in of temperature screening of all front-line employees as we receive temperature scanners at all our sites
We are closely coordinating with Canadian Food Inspection Agency officials and the Public Health Departments throughout Canada to ensure that we are doing everything possible to ensure the safety of our people. Government experts in Canada and the U.S. have made it clear that COVID-19 is not a foodborne illness and there is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of COVID-19.
This is a very fluid situation and our teams are working very closely within our network, as well as with our supply chain and logistics partners so that we can continue to deliver safe food at this critical time.
This is truly an unprecedented period for our Company and the entire food industry. Maple Leaf Foods takes our responsibility to feed people seriously every day of the year. You have my personal assurance that we stand with our 13,000 team members and with our customers in getting through this difficult crisis.”