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Maple Leaf Foods Initiates Industry-Leading DNS Traceability Program for Pork

TORONTO, ONTARIO - Maple Leaf Foods Inc. today announced that it is proceeding with the first phase of an innovative traceability project that will eventually allow tracing of its pork products from the store shelf back to the farm of origin.

"Traceability has become the Holy Grail of the food processing industry," said Michael H. McCain, President and Chief Executive Officer of Maple Leaf Foods. "Canadian consumer concerns over food safety are increasing, while internationally, Japan and the European Union are demanding increasing levels of traceability to ensure product integrity. This investment will support our leadership in food safety innovation, and ultimately offer consumers an added level of assurance when they buy our Maple Leaf products."

Maple Leaf has selected Pyxis Genomics Inc. to develop a panel of genes that will support phase one of the traceability project. Through the development of DNA fingerprinting, the system will in future allow tracking of any pork product back to the farm where it originated. The Company expects this phase to be completed by the end of 2003, and to be fully capable of providing traceability for its products within the next 18 to 24 months.

"Pyxis Genomics is committed to genomic research for animal health that enhances food safety and quality. We are honoured to be selected to develop the gene panel for this important project," said Dr. Lawrence B. Schook, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Pyxis Genomics Inc.

Pyxis Genomics Inc. is a privately-held animal genomics company headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Pyxis Genomics Canada is a wholly-owned subsidiary based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Founded in 1999, Pyxis Genomics is a world leader in maximizing the health and performance of animal through its products, platforms and tools. As a global genomics-based animal health company, Pyxis Genomics discovers, develops and commercializes its own products and services to treat and cure animal diseases, enhance animal fitness, and increase productivity through nutritional intervention.

Maple Leaf Foods Inc. (TSX: MFI) is a leading Canadian food processing company committed to delivering quality food products to consumers around the world. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, the company employs more than 18,000 people at its operations across Canada and in the United States, Europe and Asia. Maple Leaf Foods had sales of $5.1 billion in 2002.

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