Maple Leaf Foods has identified the "likely cause" of the bacterial contamination at its meat plant that's at the center of a listeriosis outbreak in Canada, according to an announcement.
The company said after "careful study" of the plant and results of product tests conducted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), company and external experts have concluded that the most likely source of the bacteria, Listeria monocytogenes, is "a possible collection point for bacteria located deep inside the mechanical operations of two slicing machines on lines eight and nine," the lines on which the only products associated with the outbreak were manufactured.
The company said the equipment received "rigorous sanitization" every day according to or exceeding the manufacturer's recommendations, but upon full disassembly, areas were found where bacteria "may accumulate deep inside the slicing machines and avoid the sanitization process." The company said the equipment has now been completely disassembled and deep cleaned, with multiple tests to ensure that it has been cleared of any contamination, a process that has now been repeated for similar slicing machines across all company plants. The company said this expanded sanitization will be done routinely.