“Maple Leaf Foods has had a strong relationship with Linda Smith for more than 15 years. That speaks volumes about Linda’s skill, focus on client service, and ability to execute. She and her team listen to the client, provide thoughtful counsel and tactical support. Smithcom is a vital extension of our team.”
– Lynda Kuhn, Senior Vice President Communications and Sustainability, Maple Leaf Foods
In August 2008 Maple Leaf Foods was informed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that they had listeria in some of the packaged deli meats. Within a week the recalled products had been definitely linked to a listeriosis outbreak where 12 people had died. In all, 23 people lost their lives from consuming meets from Maple Leaf’s Toronto area plant.
We faced the crisis by making the right decisions quickly in the best interest of the general public. Decisions in the first week included closing the plant and recalling all of the products from the beginning of the year on the largest recall in Canadian history. Messages were simple and included taking full responsibility for the outbreak and a fulsome apology to those affected. Communications efforts sought to connect with people directly using media relations and advertising. We wrote and developed a television advertisement featuring CEO Michael McCain that was on air nationally within 24 hours.