A high-level Maple Leaf Foods executive has been caught on camera joking about last year’s listeria outbreak that killed 22 people.

Rory McAlpine, vice-president of government and industry relations with the food giant was speaking at the Couchiching Conference in Orillia Aug. 8 when he delivered a quip about the outbreak, culminating with a punchline even he now says was tasteless.

“There was a woman so excited that she went and she kissed the Stanely Cup. But then she got home and she began to worry and she began to wonder, ‘Oh my God, am I going to get listeria, I kissed the Stanley Cup,” he tells the crowd in a YouTube video.

“So she phoned up Health Canada and the nice lady at Health Canada said, ‘Oh, no, no, no, no, you don’t need to worry. The Stanley Cup hasn’t been in any contact with a Maple Leaf product for 42 years.’”

Doug Powell, a Canadian food safety expert at Kansas State University, called the wisecrack “gross” and suggested he should make the listeria tests public.

After a link to the video clip appeared on Powell’s blog yesterday, McAlpine posted a mea culpa.

“I want to sincerely apologize ... for the joke,” he wrote.