Consumers slow to return to Maple Leaf food products after recall: study
A study by researchers at the University of Regina suggests consumers remain reluctant to consume Maple Leaf foods products six months after the company issued a major recall of products contaminated with listeria.
The survey asked 971 consumers across Canada a number of questions about Maple Leaf products, said Sylvain Charlebois, an associate professor in the business administration faculty who was involved in the study.
Most respondents were aware of the recall, Charlebois said, noting that 90 per cent had heard of the listeria problems. However, the study suggested that fewer than one-third could say they knew any specifics of the recall, such as which products were affected, and often responded that they had thrown out any products they had.
"Many respondents threw out all their Maple Leaf products, irrespective of whether or not they were part of the recall," an abstract of the survey noted.
Charlebois also asked questions about consumer attitudes to Maple Leaf food products after the recall.
The study found that of households that had bought Maple Leaf food items before the recall, a quarter have not done so since.
It also reported, with a caution, that 40 per cent of people who knew about the recall have not eaten Maple Leaf products post-recall.
"However," the abstract said, "some of these respondents may not have eaten Maple Leaf products regularly prior to the recall. As such, implying that 40 per cent of Maple Leaf customers have not eaten their products since the recall would be unfairly inflated."
In an interview with CBC News, Charlebois said the findings are valuable for understanding how people react to major food recalls.
"It allows us to analyze whether or not the impact of a specific recall was significant for the long term," Charlebois said.
He said it was also important because the recall was a Canadian event.
The findings also suggested that Canadians believe Maple Leaf did a good job dealing with the crisis, as 69 per cent of people surveyed thought the company managed the recall well.
The survey results are considered accurate to within 3.5 percentage points 19 times out of 20.