Nosestretcher alert, Barfblog and Maple Leaf Foods

January 23, 2011

BarfBlog: safe food from farm to fork is worth watching, as I have said before.

In Friday’s post, Nosestretcher alert: food safety is not simple, even if a $5 billion corporation says it is, Professor Doug Powell makes the following point about a key player in the Canadian grocery industry:

Memo to Michael McCain, CEO, Maple Leaf Foods Inc.:

You or your company, or both, really suck at this communication about food safety risk thing.

In the two years since your killer deli meats actually killed 23 Canadians with listeria and sickened another 50 o so, the best you can do is remind Canadians they should do more?

Prof. Powell, a transplanted Canadian microbiologist (and part-time goalie), goes on:

But if you really want to regain the trust of Canadians, like my parents, who were in Kansas the other day, and my father who said he’d never buy Maple Leaf again, here’s what you can actually do:

  • make listeria test results in Maple Leaf plants public;
  • add warning labels on deli meats for at-risk populations, like pregnant women and all those old people that unnecessarily died; and,
  • market Maple Leaf’s food safety efforts at retail so consumers can actually choose.

Trust, honesty and information sharing:  Critical for consumers and franchise investors.


6 CEOs apologizing on YouTube: Are franchise executives known for their Sincerity?

September 17, 2009

CrocodileTearsattention digital has an excellent post called 6 CEO apologies on YouTube.

Of the 6 distribution channels:

  • 2 are immediately identified as all-franchised (Domino’s and KFC),
  • 3 seem to 100% corporate (jetBlue, United Airlines and Mattel), and
  • 1 has both significant franchised and non-franchised (independent contractor and/or employee:employer relationships): Maple Leaf Foods.

I can only really speak directly about the risks and benefits of a corporation outsourcing the crucial food safety aspects of their product distribution.

It seems to me that CEOs and their Boards reap the benefits of a franchised distribution network (lower costs) but somehow want to avoid accepting responsibility for the risks of their business decisions. Treating franchisees as a cost to be driven to zero is a very, very short-sighted approach, in my opinion.

Workplace harassment and a franchisee “death by 1,000 small cuts” attitude can degenerate into a toxic environment, property damage, verbal and physical violence and much, much worse. All families have limits and there is no .

I have no doubt they are personally genuinely sorry for these events. They are sincere, absolutely.

But only time will tell whether they are sincere enough to work with (instead of against) reasoned, well-documented franchisee health and safety concerns. The history of modern franchising generally shows that franchise executives will always scapegoat rather than deal fairly.

  1. Did the executive  “know or should have reasonably been expected to know” of a certain risk?

Crocodile tears or false or insincere displays of emotion and blaming others only goes so far and predatory corporate cultures seldom change.

Have mercy on those CEOs who are judged a phoney-baloney in the face of an aroused group of franchisee families.


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