Maple Leaf suspends Brampton operations due to COVID-19 cases
April 9, 2020, Mississauga, Ont. – Maple Leaf Foods, Inc. has suspended operations at its Brampton poultry plant while it completes an investigation into three COVID-19 cases that occurred with people working at the facility.
The announcement was made in a statement by Michael McCain, president and CEO of the company.
“Our first priority is to keep our people safe so the decision was made to shut down the facility, pending a full risk assessment,” he said. “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.”
Meanwhile, an additional COVID case has occurred in a team member at the company’s Heritage plant in Hamilton, Ont. 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,” McCain stated. “Throughout our network, we are taking many steps to protect our people.”
In addition to the company’s normal, thorough daily sanitation in plants and the use of standard personal protective equipment that helps ensure food safety and protects the health of people, he said the company is 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 people during breaks; and
- Phasing in of temperature screening of all front-line employees as the company receives temperature scanners at all its sites.
“We are closely co-ordinating 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,” McCain said. “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.”
McCain said it is truly an unprecedented period for the company and the entire food industry and that Maple Leaf Foods takes its 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.”
Maple Leaf Foods is headquartered in Mississauga and employs about 13,000 employees. The company does business in Canada, the U.S. And Asia.