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Canada court approves settlement in bacteria contamination class action suit

[JURIST] The Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench [official website] on Tuesday approved a settlement agreement [text, PDF] between Canadian meatpacker Maple Leaf Foods [corporate website] and class action plaintiffs who brought suit against the company [plaintiffs website] in connection with sales of meat tainted with listeria monocytogenes [CDC backgrounder]. The tainted meat sickened 56 Canadians and caused 20 deaths across the country in 2008. Under the settlement, agreed to [JURIST report] by the plaintiffs and Maple Leaf in January, the company will pay between $25-27 million to settle the claims of class members who submit to the settlement agreement. The judge who approved the settlement agreement, Justice Ron Barclay, praised Maple Leaf Foods [Regina Leader-Post report] for its approach to the settlement of the lawsuit. The settlement agreement will be presented to a Quebec court next week for approval.

Last year's outbreak of listeriosis was traced [PHAC press release] to a Maple Leaf Foods processing plant near Toronto, Ontario. The plant was shut down in August 2008 [Vancouver Sun report], and is now running at limited production levels. The bacterial infection was spread through several products, which were promptly recalled [recall list, PDF] by the company. In response to the listeriosis outbreak, Maple Leaf Foods developed an action plan to ensure the ongoing safety of its products, including so-called "enhanced food safety protocols" [text].

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