Friday, June 04, 2010

Maple Leaf Roundtable and a CONTEST!

For a long time I’ve been fascinated by the phrase “a perfect storm”.
I hear it a lot when things are described in the financial world, but I realized that it holds true anywhere.
The connotation of the phrase is worst case scenario. To define it even better, a perfect storm is an expression that describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances will aggravate a situation drastically.
August 2008.
Twenty-two Canadians died after eating food contaminated by Listeria.
That, my friends, was the perfect storm. A company that had good safety standards with a major crisis on their hands.
My family wasn’t directly affected. I was at home on maternity leave with a 4 month old and a 4 year old. I’d sworn off a lot of meat, deli meat especially, in pregnancy. And, since I was pretty sure that my son had ADHD, our entire family was on a diet that eliminated pretty much everything in an effort to try to control the symptoms. Nitrates were evil. (as was sugar, artificial colours, chocolate, juice … fun times in our home!)
I watched the news unfold with a sense of horror, and admittedly a little bit of elitism
“Not me.”
“Not in my house.”
“We don’t eat anything processed. My family would never get that.”
That was a year and a half ago.
If you look in my fridge now you may be surprised.
The nitrate-free organic items have been replaced by, you guessed it. Hot dogs. My kids beg for mac and cheese (and get it) and my fibre laced cookies have been replaced by whatever happens to be on sale this week at the grocery store. We eat a lot of processed meat because it’s easy.
And suddenly it hits me.
I was living in a bubble. I was lucky that we weren’t affected by this outbreak. I was lucky that this was a year and a half ago. Not today.
I’m back at work. I have a nanny at my house. My husband and I fight over who has to cook dinner. I throw stuff in my kid’s lunch and grab something on the way out the door for me.
And while I’ve been in a tailspin called life, the company responsible for the outbreaks has been working hard to ensure that we can trust them again. And know that they will stand behind their products.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend an event held by Maple Leaf Foods with other parent bloggers.
 Michael McCain, the CEO of the corporation spoke to us. You’ve probably seen him on commercials.
He was there to speak to us about food safety. And to talk about what happened in August of 2008. He said something that shocked me, “We killed 22 people.”
He took the responsibility, and placed it directly on his shoulders.
I was impressed.
It’s not easy to admit a mistake. It’s even harder to wear that mistake means you were responsible for the death of 22 people.
The other thing that I respected was that they are now working to educate people about food safety.  And believe me I was inspired to clean out my kitchen after learning about various food hazards.
One other thing they introduced to us was the Maple Leaf Food Safety Pledge. In this pledge they state their commitment to food safety. It’s something that they take seriously. And, if they are willing to take it seriously I’m willing to buy their products.
And just so I can feel a little less guilt about serving my kids processed meats, they now make Natural Selections products that are healthier. And, according to my six year old, yummy!
While we were at the roundtable event we had a chance to eat dinner and enjoy their products. And take some home to enjoy at home.

And, there’s a chance for you to win some Maple Leaf Products as well. The gift bag, which is actually a thermal grocery bag, includes a Maple Leaf Apron, a meat thermometer, pen and coupons for approximately $20.00 of Maple Leaf Products!
How to enter:
1. Leave a comment here. Please tell me what is important about food safety to you. (please use a valid e-mail address)
Bonus Entry:
2. Follow me on Twitter @Lauraldawn or tell me that you already do.
Contest is open to residents of Canada and closes on Thursday June 10.

I was invited by MatchStick Inc in conjunction with Maple Leaf Foods to attend the Round Table event. I had dinner at the event and received a gift bag that included $20 in gas cards, some Maple Leaf products and coupons. However, this did not influence what I wrote in this post.