By Vanessa Greco
A nationwide product recall immediately prompted Ryerson food services to stop dishing out meat from Maple Leaf Foods.
In late August, sandwiches containing various types of sliced meats were pulled off shelves at Starbucks in the POD 60 lounge following the news of certain Maple Leaf processed meats being linked to a fatal listeriosis outbreak.
All meat from POD 60 and catering — who share the same kitchen — was disposed of.
“We’ve dealt with Maple Leaf in the past, but since the recall we’ve changed suppliers,” said Director of Ancillary Services John Corallo.
This is the first recall to affect Ryerson in the last five years and so far no one has fallen ill with listeriosis from POD 60 food that was recalled.
Ryerson President Sheldon Levy said that while Ryerson isn’t sued often, the university is ready in case someone does get ill and sues the school.
“We have insurance plans and we have legal plans and we have contingency plans, so touch wood [getting sued] would never happen under such a case, but we would have to deal with it.”
At the time of the recall, all other food services venues on campus were closed for the summer and therefore not affected, said Corallo.
Hot on the heels of the Maple Leaf debacle, last week Fresh Obsessions announced a recall for their pre-sliced white mushrooms. The next day, Ivanhoe Cheese Inc. did the same for many of their Ontario distributed cheeses.
According to Corallo, Aramark, the company that manages food services at Ryerson, hasn’t given him any notification that the items are in stock.
“If we did carry these products, I would have known by now,” he said.
Unaffected by any product recalls are Maggie’s Eatery in the International Living Learning Centre (ILLC) and Oakham House, both not managed by Aramark.
Maggie’s Eatery receives about two shipments a week from its Etobicoke-based meat supplier The Butcher Shoppe, said Yong Seto, Conference & Food Services Manager at Maggie’s Eatery.
“To the best of my knowledge, we have never used Maple Leaf or the other recalled products,” Seto said. “But, to ensure student confidence we’ve made lots of alternatives available such as grilled vegetables or egg salad sandwiches.”
Alfred Burr says student confidence and safety are a top priority in his kitchen.
When the Oakham House kitchen manager read about the Maple Leaf recall in the Toronto Star, he phoned his supplier right away and double-checked the dates on everything in the kitchen.
“Just in case,” said Burr. “The recall didn’t affect us but it’s important tothink and ask questions.”
Meanwhile back at the POD, students can still pick up a panini at the Starbucks kiosk. But, despite a supplier change, some are still second-guessing their sandwiches.
Fourth-year accounting student, Stephen Pinnell, admits he’s become more discerning with his deli since the Maple Leaf recall.
“It’s changed the way I think about purchasing food,” he said. “Right now I’m avoiding anything to do with sliced meats and paying a lot more attention to the news.”
First-year international economics and finance student, Kristina Niceski, has stopped purchasing Maple Leaf products but said she isn’t worried that she’ll get sick by eating food served at Ryerson.
“I’m pretty confident that Ryerson is responsible enough to take notice of a product recall and react accordingly.”
If students are worried they have eaten food contaminated with listeria, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Director of Communicable Disease Control at Toronto Public Health said people don’t always get sick from the listeria bacteria.
“If you’re a healthy person I don’t think there is much to worry about,” she said.
“If you’re in a higher risk group [including pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems] and you develop symptoms like vomiting, nausea, cramps, diarrhea, constipation or fever you should contact a doctor immediately.”