CHICAGO -- Sara Lee's two-pronged strategy to regain both retailer and consumer confidence in its deli meats is meeting with success, said company officials.
The products were the subject of the largest food recall in U.S. history, after federal investigators determined items manufactured at Sara Lee's Bil Mar Foods plant in Zeeland, Mich., were contaminated with the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Health officials linked the products to 100 illnesses nationwide, including 15 deaths.
"We're extremely pleased to note that more than 80% of the retailers who were carrying these products before the recall are marketing them [again]," said Jeffrey Smith, Sara Lee spokesman.
The announcement came as Sara Lee's U.S. Packaged Meat division launched a tandem campaign directly targeting consumers through a series of newspaper ads that feature a coupon for a free one-quarter pound of deli meat, redeemable at participating stores' delis.
The offer, which expires May 31, is accompanied by another coupon that allows customers to receive by mail four 75-cents-off coupons for additional products.
The ad campaign is running in 30 markets, according to Smith. Sara Lee deli products are available in 39 states and the District of Columbia.