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Maple Leaf Foods Media Statement

TORONTO, Mar 4, 2009 (Canada NewsWire via COMTEX) — Maple Leaf Foods today issued the following statement:

A Canadian Press story of March 4 suggesting Maple Leaf Foods and CFIA officials “discussed food safety in relation to listeria” before last summer’s outbreak is misleading and irresponsible in the context of on the record statements from the parties involved in the discussion.

“While we welcome open discussion of the outbreak in any and all reviews to ensure appropriate lessons are drawn from this tragedy, we take the strongest possible exception to any inference that we withheld information from the public,” said Michael McCain, President and CEO.

Maple Leaf Foods has worked to be open, transparent, and factual in all its public statements regarding this tragedy. We acted swiftly to recall products, shut plants, to protect Canadians as soon as tests linked listeria to our products and the outbreak. To suggest otherwise is both unfortunate and unacceptable.”

The handwritten notes cited in the CP story reflect a general discussion of microbial pathogens with the CFIA, including listeria. Listeria was not discussed in the context of any food safety issue; it was discussed in the context of US trade regulations during a routine and ongoing dialogue with the government. At the time the meeting occurred on July 24th no one at Maple Leaf Foods or the CFIA had any reason to believe there was a health issue involving listeria related to Maple Leaf product.

SOURCE: Maple Leaf Foods Inc.

Maple Leaf Media Hotline, (416) 926-2020