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Recall drives Maple Leaf to Q3 loss

Maple Leaf Foods reported a third-quarter net loss on Oct. 29 as charges mounted from a costly recall of tainted meat that the company said was now complete.

The company, one of Canada’s largest food processors, posted a loss of $12.9 million compared with a year-earlier profit of $220.4 million.

The company said the 2008 results included product recall and restructuring costs of 24 cents a share, mostly from the recall of tainted meat in August.

The 2007 results included profit of $217.7 million from the sale of Maple Leaf’s livestock feed business.

In late August, the company said it expected a direct cost of about $20 million from an outbreak of listeriosis food poisoning at its Toronto plant.

Contaminated deli meats from the Toronto plant were linked to at least 20 deaths this year. After an extensive investigation, the company said it believed two slicers at the plant had been harbouring the bacteria.

Maple Leaf said Oct. 29 the recall was complete, and it was moving to restore sales and volumes.

“The headline for the third quarter was managing the unprecedented recall at our Toronto packaged meats plant and doing what was right to protect consumers and maintain public trust,” CEO Michael McCain said in a statement.

“While the recall is complete, our actions had a very substantial near-term impact.”

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