In the summer of 2008 there was a widespread outbreak of listeriosis linked to deli meats produced in a Maple Leaf Foods, Inc. (Maple Leaf) plant in Toronto, Canada. The outbreak claimed over 20 lives and sickened hundreds. This reaction paper will take a deeper look at the crisis, analyze the company’s response, and address ethical issues related to the case such as responsibility, honesty, and transparency. Similar cases involving recalls made by Menu Foods, Tylenol and Mattel will be discussed as a contrast. Listeriosis is an infection caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Listeria is a common bacterium found in all sorts of food plants but is dangerous at high levels, especially for adults over fifty, pregnant
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Maple Leaf had a choice to make; it could have tried to defend itself and divert responsibility by pointing fingers or it could have taken responsibility. Mr. McCain made the choice to take full responsibility. “We had a breach, and we took accountability” he says in an interview with Maclean’s magazine. He expanded the recall to include all 220 products produced at the plant, which cost an estimated $20 million. He committed to implementing safety standards that are amongst the most conservative in the world. Finally, he decided to handle lawsuits as promptly as possible by giving people what they wanted for the most part.
The decisions that Mr. McCain made seem to be costly ones, at least in the short run. It can be argued that Maple Leaf, being a public company, has an obligation to maximize shareholder first and foremost. Increased costs could negatively impact shareholder value. So did Mr. McCain make the right choice? To answer this question we use Menu Foods, Tylenol, and Mattel as examples and summarize using Tucker’s five questions.
In March 2007, Menu Foods, a manufacturer of over 90 brands of dog and cat food, recalled 60 million cans of pet food after it was discovered that the pet food contained wheat gluten tainted with melamine and cyanuric acid. The combination of the chemicals caused kidney failure and death in some cases. The source of the toxic chemical was traced back to Chinese pet food