“Hidden” Dangers of Product Harm for Retailers

When we think of product harm crises, we tend to focus on the organization that created the product.  That is the organization is full crisis as they must recall the product and cope with the disruptions and financial burdens of the process.  Obviously, retailers are affected by a recall to some to some degree.  They must remove productions from the shelves, place notifications about recalls for customers (bulletin boards in stores and at web sites are common channels), and see that the product is returned to the manufacturer when need be.  But this is not a serious disruption because there are usually other brands with the same type of product on the shelves and the retailer is not the one liable for injuries and deaths resulting from the product harm.

 

Actually there are circumstances where a retailer can be responsible can be liable for some of the injuries and deaths from a product they sold but did not make or produce.  The SoyNut Butter Company filed for bankruptcy as a result of their E. coli outbreak linked to its I.M. Healthy brand peanut butter substitute.  The outbreak sickened 32 people and 26 of them are children.  The product was contracted through Dixie Dew Products and that company will soon file for bankruptcy.  The Food Safety News offered this report about the effects of the bankruptcies:

 

Seventeen of the victims are represented by Seattle attorney Bill Marler, who has been practicing in the foodborne illness arena since 1993 when he represented victims in the Jack in the Box hamburger E. coli outbreak.

“The bankruptcy was not unexpected,” Marler said Tuesday. “We expect Dixie Dew to follow suit in the next 30 to 60 days.”

The action in bankruptcy court effectively puts civil cases filed by outbreak victims in state and federal courts on hold, Marler said. Insurance coverage that SoyNut Butter Co. and Dixie Dew Products have, assuming the manufacturer also files for bankruptcy, will total about $12 million and can only be used to compensate outbreak victims, not other creditors, Marler said.

If both SoyNut Butter Co. and manufacturer Dixie Dew Products go bankrupt, retailers who sold the implicated soy nut paste will be liable to outbreak victims, Marler said. Those retailers include Target and Amazon.

“This underscores how important it is that retailers pay attention to where they’re getting their products,” Marler said.

“If a responsible retailer would have looked at Dixie Dew and I.M. Healthy they would have seen what the FDA saw. You can’t just buy stuff and sell it without knowing where it comes from.”

A quick review of other legal sites provided similar information.  Retailers can be liable for recall damages, especially when the supplier or manufacturer is bankrupt.  Here is how one law firm phrases it:

In most cases it is the manufacturer that bears the responsibility and expense of a product recall. However, in cases where the manufacturer is out of business, in bankruptcy or is located in a foreign country (thus beyond CPSC’s jurisdiction), the US- based wholesaler-distributor may become the responsible party. The bottom line consequence to a wholesaler-distributor may be substantial since the net profit realized on a sale is a small fraction of the product’s sale price.

The wholesaler-distributor can minimize this liability exposure by exercising due diligence when selecting a supplier to assure that the company has insured against this risk and is likely to be able to fulfill its recall responsibility if required. It is also prudent for the wholesaler-distributor to consider buying product recall insurance coverage as part of the firm’s general liability policy.

Another law firm notes:

A manufacturer bankruptcy can leave the retailers in a lurch but it does not leave the retailer without recourse in all situations. It is important to note that the bankruptcy only applies to the debtor. If the manufacturer is a subsidiary business the bankruptcy filing should be consulted to see if the manufacturer is included in the bankruptcy process. If it is not, then there may be no bankruptcy issue. It is also important to know that the insurance policies that may apply to the manufacturer and retailer, as an additional insured, are not covered by the bankruptcy and may be available to the retailer for the purpose of providing both indemnity and a defense providing that there is coverage to the retailer and the aggregate has not been reached under the policy limits.

 

The takeaway is that retailers are at risk from the product they sell.  Retailers must show due diligence about product safety.  Retailers must stay informed about any recalls, review safety records of the companies they buy from, and keep careful records.

Questions to Consider

1. Does it seem fair retailers can be held liable for products produced by others?  Why or why not?

2.  What implications does this have for risk analysis and crisis communication planning?

3.  How and why would you explain this risk to your employees?

 

How Not to Do a Product Recall

Recently, the South Korea ordered Hyundai and Kia to recall 240,000 vehicles due to concerns over safety defects.  The car manufacturers had recalled over one million cars last year in the U.S. due to problems with the engines stalling. Recalling vehicles happens all the time and all over the world for a variety of safety and quality issues.  An earlier post noted the recalls by GM and VW that were media sensations.  What makes this recall special is that the recall was not voluntary.  Hyundai and Kia had resisted request to recall the vehicle causing the government to force a recall.

 

Involuntary recalls create a much worse crisis for the organization. Marketing research has shown an involuntary recall does much more damage to reputations and purchase intention than voluntary recalls.  Involuntary recalls create the appearance that the organization about customers because the organization shows no regard for safety or quality of its products. ( I have include some references below for more information on the effects of involuntary recalls).

 

If the involuntary recall was bad enough, the way the product defect was reported makes it even worse.  A former employee acted as a whistleblower who reported the defects to the government.  The whistleblower had worked at Hyundai for 26 years.  A whistleblower suggests the organization knew about the defects and tried to cover-up the problem.  In fact, the government is investigating whether or not a cover-up had occurred.  Knowing there is a problem and not telling customers about it increases the negativity generated ty the crisis.  Stealing thunder is a much better option when an organization knows it has a problem.  As noted in an earlier post about the stealing thunder research, being the first source to report the problem results in less damage being inflicted on the organization by the crisis. 

 

Questions to Consider

 

1. Why might Hyundai have decided against stealing thunder in this case?

 

2.  Do you think whistleblowing really adds to the damage of the involuntary recall or is simply having an involuntary recall maximized the damage the crisis could inflict on the organization? 

 

3.  What are the communication options now for the crisis managers in this case?

 

 

References

 

Siomkos, G. J., & Malliaris, P. G. (2011). Consumer response to company communications during a product harm crisis. Journal of Applied Business Research (JABR), 8(4), 59-65. Siomkos, G., & Shrivastava, P. (1993). Responding to product liability crises. Long Range Planning, 26(5), 72-79.

Vassilikopoulou, A., Siomkos, G., Chatzipanagiotou, K., & Pantouvakis, A. (2009). Product-harm crisis management: Time heals all wounds?. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 16(3), 174-180.

 

Fear and Energy Drinks: Too Much Caffeine for Children?

February 16, 2011 (original date now updated in 2017)

The recent death (May 2017) of a 16-year-old in South Carolina has returned the energy drink/caffeine issue to public attention.  The case shows the connections between crisis communication, issues managements, and risk communication.  Here are highlights from the news story:

Davis Allen Cripe collapsed at a high school in April after drinking a McDonalds latte, a large Mountain Dew soft drink and an energy drink in just under two hours, Gary Watts said.

The 16-year-old died from a “caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia”.

He had no pre-existing heart condition.

The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) has warned against children and teenagers consuming energy drinks, saying their ingredients have not been tested on children and “no-one can ensure they are safe”.

It says they have side-effects including irregular heartbeats and blood pressure changes.

Most energy drinks contain a caffeine equivalent of three cups of coffee and as much as 14 teaspoons of sugar, the AAP says.

Davis may have consumed about 470mg of caffeine in just under two hours, based on statistics from the website caffeineinformer.com.

It says a McDonald’s latte has 142mg of caffeine, a 570ml (20oz) Mountain Dew has 90mg, and a 450ml (16oz) energy drink can have as much as 240mg.

In 2015, the European Food Safety Authority said drinking more than 400mg could lead to increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, tremors, nervousness, insomnia and panic attacks.

 

It should be no surprise to anyone that too much energy drink consumption is bad for a person, especially children.  But how much is too much?  And how is bad for a person?  It is not uncommon for young people to drink more than one energy drink to stay up to engage in a variety of activities from gaming to studying.  The issue becomes the risks posed from the energy drinks.  The problem centers on the high amounts of caffeine and other ingredients that provide “energy.”  In reality, those ingredients heart palpitations, seizures, strokes, and even death.  Caffeine is the central ingredient.  Energy drinks typical contains  four to five the amount found in sodas.  Physicians now argue that drinking four or five energy drinks per day can be dangerous for children. 

Here is a summary of a recent medical study

Energy drinks may pose a risk for serious adverse health effects in some children, especially those with diabetes, seizures, cardiac abnormalities or mood and behavior disorders.

A new study, “Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults,” in the March issue of Pediatrics (published online Feb. 14), determined that energy drinks have no therapeutic benefit to children, and both the known and unknown properties of the ingredients, combined with reports of toxicity, may put some children at risk for adverse health events.

Youth account for half of the energy drink market, and according to surveys, 30 percent to 50 percent of adolescents report consuming energy drinks. Typically, energy drinks contain high levels of stimulants such as caffeine, taurine, and guarana, and safe consumption levels have not been established for most adolescents. Because energy drinks are frequently marketed to athletes and at-risk young adults, it is important for pediatric health care providers to screen for heavy use both alone and with alcohol, and to educate families and children at-risk for energy drink overdose, which can result in seizures, stroke and even sudden death.

Here is the name an link to the full report:  ‘Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults’

This is not an overreaction from a group of concerned parents or scare tactics from a group that does not like energy drinks.  This is a scientifically based study by trained medical professionals trying to understand the potential risk of a product.  Nor is the concern sudden.  In 2010, The American Association of Poison Control Centers began tracking energy drink overdoses and side effects nationwide.  Their findings:  677 cases occurred from October through December of 2010 and 331 have been reported this year (Feb of 2010).  One issue that Poison Control has is the failure of many companies to disclose the amount of caffeine in drinks.  In fact, the Poison Control Centers began issuing warnings about energy drinks three years ago.

If young people are a key target market, we would expect concern from the beverage industry about this new report.  Here is a statement from Maureen Storey, senior vice president of science policy at the American Beverage Association, an industry group, said the report “does nothing more than perpetuate misinformation” about energy drinks. The Association added: 

“Like all foods, beverages and supplements sold in the US, energy drinks and their ingredients are regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration,” the ABA said. “When it comes to caffeine, it’s important to put the facts in perspective. Most mainstream energy drinks actually contain about half the caffeine of a similar size cup of coffeehouse coffee. In fact, young adults getting coffee from popular coffeehouses are getting about twice as much caffeine as they would from a similar size energy drink.”

Here is more from the Association’s news release

“It’s unfortunate that the authors of this article would attempt to lump all energy drinks together in a rhetorical attack when the facts of their review clearly distinguishes the mainstream responsible players from novelty companies seeking attention and increased sales based solely on extreme names and caffeine content.

Their review confirms that the amount of caffeine in mainstream energy drinks is, in fact, moderate. As a comparison, energy drinks typically contain half the caffeine found in regular coffeehouse coffee. Specifically, a 16-ounce regular blend coffee at a popular coffeehouse contains 320 mg of caffeine, while a comparable size mainstream energy drink contains about 160 mg (see graphic here: http://www.ameribev.org/industry-issues/healthy-balanced-diet/beverage-ingredients/caffeine/fact-sheets/download.aspx?id=192). So those suggesting that energy drinks should require warning labels need to be aware of the slippery slope this would create: to be consistent, products at coffeehouses also would require such unnecessary labeling.

Furthermore, our companies market their energy drink products responsibly. It’s unhelpful to the public that the authors would combine certain extreme products with illicit or suggestive names with other more mainstream energy drinks in an effort to sensationalize and demonize the entire product category and gain exposure for their work.

Questions to Consider

1.  How would you evaluate the credibility of the study?  Why does credibility matter in issues management?

2.  How ethical is the charge of misinformation made by the American Beverage Association?  Explain your evaluation.

3.  Is it fair to say the reaction from the American Beverage Association was predictable?  Why or why not?

4.  Should the energy drink makers be worried about new regulations appearing as a result of this study?  Why or why not?

5.  How would you evaluate the American Beverage Association’s reaction from an issues management perspective?  From a crisis management perspective?

6.  How would you evaluate the risk this report posses to the energy drink makers?  How did you arrive at that evaluation?

7.  Why does the May 2017 death revive the issue?

8.  Would you consider this a paracrisis?  Why or why not?

9.  How does rick communication become relevant here?

 

Complexity of Cyber Attack Crises

Last week a ransomware attack occurred affecting over 75,000 computers in 99 countries.  The attack affected government agencies, schools, hospitals, and corporations.  The corporations affected included FedEx, Telecoms, and Renault.  Among the countries involved were China, the UK, Sweden, Russia, Indonesia, the U.S., Portugal, and Spain.  Ransomware is a type of malware that demands a ransom be paid or a computer system will be crippled.  This particular attack has been called WannaCry (and a few other names).  It is a worm that infects computers and not the opening of attachments.  WannaCry illustrates the cyber crisis risks faced by organizations.

 

Cyber attacks are complicated form of crisis for crisis managers.  Even a few years ago, a cyber attack would have been considered a victim crisis—the organization and its stakeholders suffer damage caused by an external agent.  Organizations were seen as having little control over the crisis, hence, attributions of crisis responsibility were low (See Situational Crisis Communication Theory for more information about the relevance of crisis responsibility’s importance).  The Target data breech in 2014 was a significant marker in the shift in stakeholder perceptions of cyber attack crises.  Public opinion data then showed people now blamed the organizations for the cyber attacks.  Stakeholders now felt organizations were not doing enough to protect their data from hackers.  The fairness of this new attitude can be questioned.  Target, for example, actually had exceeded requirements for cyber security.  Hackers simply ae ahead of the software used in cyber security.  New programs are being developed regularly that create new cyber risks for organizations and individuals.  The WannaCry attack was dubbed unprecedented in size by international law enforcement yet the individual organizations are likely to take the blame for any problems that arise from the crisis.  For instance, the Nissan facility in Sunderland in the U.K. was infected but production was not interrupted.  It is possible crisis responsibility will be low for WannaCry because of the scale and the effects being felt primarily by the organization.  Cyber attacks that compromise stakeholder data placing them at risk are want seem to draw attributions of crisis responsibility.  The point is that the communication demands for cyber attacks have changed and become more complicated.  Crisis communication research focusing on cyber attacks is just emerging and needs more attention to help unpack the specific communicative demands from this crisis type.  What we do know suggests that cyber attacks should be treated as preventable and not victim crises even though the true ability to prevent the cyber attacks is questionable.  It is easy to see have managers would be reluctant to treat a cyber attack as a preventable crises but perception and not facts frequently drive crises.

 

Questions to Consider

 

1.  How fair is it to organizations to assume cyber attacks are preventable?

2.  How effective might it be to tell stakeholders the level of security measures in place before a cyber attack occurred?  Why might this help or not?

Delta and Customer Service again: Life in the YouTube World

Appearing on YouTube does not make every ugly customer relations encounter a crisis, even if it is on an airplane.  The customer is not always right and often times do escalate conflict with those in customer service.  We should remember that customer service is a difficult job requiring emotional labor and dealing with some unpleasant people.  However, every effort should be made to de-escalate the conflict.  Delta had another example of an escalating conflict on a red eye flight.  A family had an older child take an earlier flight.  The father then argued that he still had the seat and placed his two-year’s car seat in the seat instead of being a lap child.  The man did not own the seat.  The seat he paid for left on an earlier flight.  Delta had every right to then use that seat for a standby passenger.  It should be noted this was not an overbooking situation.  The passenger refused to comply with the Delta person’s request to give up the seat.  Eventually the man did but Delta decided it was too late and he had pushed the situation too far.  That is where a judgment call comes into play and their is room for interpretation and picking sides.  The Delta employee supposedly said the person risked committing a federal crime and losing his children due to that.  The part about the child was over top and kept the conflict escalating.  But it is federal offense to not comply with crew member instructions however legal needs to determine what is covered in this situation.  The point is that the passenger instigated the situation that lead to the family being asked to leave the plane.  Their seats were then taken by standby passengers, not an overbooking situation.  Here is Delta’s statement:

Delta Air Lines issued the following statement today regarding Flight 2222 on April 23:

“We are sorry for the unfortunate experience our customers had with Delta, and we’ve reached out to them to refund their travel and provide additional compensation. Delta’s goal is to always work with customers in an attempt to find solutions to their travel issues. That did not happen in this case and we apologize.”

One practitioner site has been highly critical of Delta’s apology saying it shows far too little compassion. And wrongly likened the situation to United and claimed it was another case of overbooking.  Neither point is accurate.  The question is how much compassion should you show for someone who started the problem and actively sought to escalate the situation even though the person’s fundamental point was wrong?  Airline employees have jobs to do that affect the lives of a lot of travelers.  They need to have some power to deal with people who are unruly and uncooperative.  The practitioner site state: “These are crisis lessons airlines needs to learn quickly because it is apparent passengers will be pulling out their mobile phone every time they feel they have been wronged.”  Does that mean any organization engaging in customer service must accepted inappropriate behavior simply because people have phones on their cameras?  I would hope not.  Delta will take some heat because of the lingering outrage over the United crisis (yes that was really a crisis) but it should pass quickly.  The situation has more to do with language choice (threat to lose children) than the actions.  There are times passengers are uncooperative and airlines need to remove them from a flight to do their jobs effectively and to even make a point. Time will tell if this case meets those criteria.  The media and others are quick to talk about a passenger’s bill of rights.  But what about passenger responsibilities?  Passengers in the wrong delay flights and can jeopardize the safety of other passengers.  There are times the airline personnel need to exercise their power, whether or not that are phones around and people think the policy is wrong.  It seems each side went a little too far in this case with their words.  However, passengers should now they can be removed from plane if they are a problem and cell phones will not be a reason to reward such bad behavior and inflated sense of entitlement.

Questions to Consider

  1.  Should you have to change how you perform your job if people decided to record and place your actions online for the comments of others?

Online Resources for Teaching Crisis Communication:  Emphasis on Chemical Accidents and Video

 

 

Video cases are an effective way to engage students with the material.  As some research has indicated, seeing the crisis can make it more powerful.  I have listed here a set of three resources.  The first two are about specific crises while the third is more general to chemical accidents.

 

BP and the Gulf of Mexico

Most people have heard of the BP crisis in the Gulf and the deaths from the Deepwater Horizon. Frontline did an excellent show about the crisis.  What makes it so helpful is the context the show provides.  It talks about how the safety or lack of safety culture at BP contributed to the cause.  The show reinforces the value of risk management for crisis managers.  The show even goes back to the deadly Texas City explosion in 1995.  There is even a PDF of the transcript for the show.  Here is the link:

 

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/the-spill/

 

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory is a very old case but shows how problems in the garment industry are not new. It is easy to link this crisis to more recent crises that have killed workers in other countries such as the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh.  The crisis claimed the lives of 146 workers.  There are number of videos of varying length for the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory crisis.  Here are links to three of them:

43 minutes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKdMuVu1wi8

8 minutes

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/on-this-day-march-25-1911-triangle-fire-tragedy-kills-146-factory-workers-in-nyc/

 

4 minutes

 

Cornell University has an archive about the event:  http://www.cornell.edu/video/the-triangle-shirtwaist-factory-collection

 

PBS has a number of resources related to the 100th anniversary of the event.

 

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/100-years-after-the-shirtwaist-factory-fire/

 

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/multimedia/trianglefire/

 

https://www-tc.pbs.org/wnet/historyofus/teachers/pdfs/segment9-7.pdf

 

Here are some links for Rana Plaza:

 

http://www.globallabourrights.org/campaigns/factory-collapse-in-bangladesh

 

Has background details

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/18/rana-plaza-collapse-murder-charges-garment-factory

 

Reports on the outcomes for the managers

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Fkhzdc4ybw

 

Short documentary

U.S. Chemical Safety Board

Finally, here are links to the USCSB.  The cite has reports about chemical accidents and a video library.  Many of the videos are technical but have short segments that are helpful in class to show the effects and causes of chemical accidents.

http://www.csb.gov/

http://www.csb.gov/videos/

 

Here is a description of the agency that appears on its web site:

“The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the agency’s board members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

The CSB conducts root cause investigations of chemical accidents at fixed industrial facilities. Root causes are usually deficiencies in safety management systems, but can be any factor that would have prevented the accident if that factor had not occurred. Other accident causes often involve equipment failures, human errors, unforeseen chemical reactions or other hazards. The agency does not issue fines or citations, but does make recommendations to plants, regulatory agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), industry organizations, and labor groups. Congress designed the CSB to be non-regulatory and independent of other agencies so that its investigations might, where appropriate, review the effectiveness of regulations and regulatory enforcement.

The CSB investigative staff includes chemical and mechanical engineers, industrial safety experts, and other specialists with experience in the private and public sectors. Many investigators have years of chemical industry experience.”

 

 

 

 

McDonald’s, KFC, P&G and Odwalla: Crisis Resources for Clarifying Misleading Crisis Remembering

The other day Nadine sent me a link with a video about the McDonald’s coffee lawsuit.  It is a five-minute video that explains the real events behind the myth.  Here is the link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9DXSCpcz9E.  The video clarifies how the lawsuit loss was a result of McDonald’s failure to manage risk.  There had been over 700 complaints of  hot coffee before the lawsuit.  And the victim did suffer serious injuries and did not get over a million dollars for the settlement.  Sometimes crises become urban legends.  For example, there never has been a rat served at a KFC.  The urban myth came back with a picture posted online in 2015 that was lab tested and was chicken.  Here is link for more of the debunking of the urban myth:  http://www.snopes.com/horrors/food/friedrat.asp.  Other cases that fit with this theme would be the P&G and the devil with the man in the moon logo (http://www.snopes.com/business/alliance/procter.asp) and the praise for Odwalla for the deadly 1996 recall it could have prevented (I list some references at the end).  These cases a mix of fiction and misremembered/misrepresented information about the crises. 

Here are some links that explain why the Odwalla case was preventable and how the company ignored the risk warning signs.  Their negligence is why the company lost an important legal case long after the media lost interest in the crisis.

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2009/09/meaningful-outbreak-4-odwalla-apple-juice-e-coli-o157h7-outbreak/#.WQ8J-oWcEdk

http://www.jonentine.com/articles/odwalla.htm

 

 

Here are some examples of how researchers praised Odwalla without knowing all the facts. The first piece was too soon to know the court case and focused on the early use of the Internet for crisis communication.  The second piece was well after the court case.   

Thomsen, S. R., & Rawson, B. (1998). Purifying a tainted corporate image: Odwalla’s response to an E. coli poisoning. Public Relations Quarterly, 43(3), 35.

Reierson, J. L., Sellnow, T. L., & Ulmer, R. R. (2009). Complexities of crisis renewal over time: Learning from the tainted Odwalla apple juice case. Communication Studies, 60(2), 114-129.

Here are a few links to go with the McDonald’s video:

http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm

http://segarlaw.com/blog/myths-and-facts-of-the-mcdonalds-hot-coffee-case/            

Here are some academic pieces for the Kentucky fried rat and P&G and the Devil

Fine, G. A. (1980). The Kentucky fried rat: Legends and modern society. Journal of the Folklore Institute, 17(2/3), 222-243.

Hulnick, A. S. (2001). Dirty Tricks for Profit: Covert Action in Private Industry. International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, 14(4), 529-544.

Kimmel, A. J. (2004). Rumors and rumor control: A manager’s guide to understanding and combatting rumors. Routledge.

 

 

 

 

Dole Reveals the Cost of Recalls: The Effects of Operational Crises

I have been arguing that it is important to distinguish between operational and reputational crises.  Crises often contains elements of both but one tends to dominate and that domination has implications for crisis communication.  Operational crises are marked by a disruption or potential disruption to operations, a driving factors in creating crisis management.  Operational crises also tend to create a risk for stakeholder health and safety.  Product harm crises are operational.  When a product poses a hazard to stakeholders, the organization engages in a recall (corrective action).  Organizations do purchase recall insurance but it rarely covers the full cost of the recall.  Crisis communication can be essential to creating awareness and compliance with a recall (instructing information) as well as helping to address reputational concerns that emerge from the crisis.

 

Dole has about 25% of the bagged salad market in the U.S. The Dole bagged salad recall is an excellent example to illustrate the costs of product harm crisis, one that is also a food safety crisis.  In 2015, some bagged salad tested positive for Salmonella.  The recall cost Dole $10.8 million.  In 2016, there was a deadly Listeria outbreak.  According to the CDC, 19 people were hospitalized and one died from the outbreak that was linked to the Dole bagged salad facility in Springfield, Ohio.

 

Here is the recall announcement:

 

Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc., is temporarily suspending operations at its Springfield, Ohio production facility, and is voluntarily withdrawing from the market all Dole-branded and private label packaged salads processed at that location (see the product list at http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/outbreaks/) Products subject to the voluntary withdrawal are identified with a product code beginning with the letter “A” in the upper right-hand corner of the package (see example below), and are sold in the following states and Canadian provinces noted below. This suspension and withdrawal is being performed voluntarily by Dole out of an abundance of caution, in collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control. See more about this withdrawal at www.cdc.gov/listeria/outbreaks/

No additional Dole facilities are affected. Other Dole products, including fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and packaged salads from Dole’s other processing facilities (with product codes beginning with the letters “B” or “N”), are not part of this voluntary withdrawal.

Retailers and consumers who have any remaining product with an “A” code should not consume it, and are urged to discard it. Retailer and consumer questions about the voluntary withdrawal should be directed to the Dole Food Company Consumer Response Center at 800-356-3111) (hours are 8:00am-8:00pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday). Media inquiries should be directed to Bil Goldfield at 818-874-4647.

Retailers which carry Dole products produced in its Springfield, OH plant (with the product code beginning with the letter “A” in the upper right-hand corner of the package) should check their store shelves and warehouse inventories to confirm that no withdrawn product is available for purchase by consumers. Dole Fresh Vegetables’ customer service representatives have been contacting retailers, and are in the process of confirming that the withdrawn product has been removed from the supply chain.

Dole Fresh Vegetables is coordinating closely with regulatory officials.

List of states included in the voluntary withdrawal:

  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

List of provinces included in the voluntary withdrawal:

  • Ontario
  • New Brunswick
  • Quebec

 

 

Here is Dole’s statement:

 

Dole Food Company, Inc. One Dole Drive Westlake Village, California 91362-7300 Attention: Consumer Center Phone: 800-356-3111

(January 27, 2016) – Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc., has temporarily suspended operations at our Springfield, Ohio production facility, and we are voluntarily recalling all Dole-branded and private label packaged salads processed at that location.

We apologize for any concern or inconvenience this temporary suspension has caused our retail customers and consumers. While other Dole products are not affected by the recall, we want to keep you updated with the latest information about the products that have been taken off the market.

Our voluntary product recall is a result of a suspected link of the products to a listeria outbreak, but the exact source is still unknown. We are working closely with regulatory agencies as our Springfield plant undergoes additional investigation and testing.

Voluntary recall is a specific term used by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While our actions under a voluntary recall as compared to the previously reported voluntary withdrawal remain the same, we have updated our communication terminology to reference a “recall.” We have done this with the aim of using terminology that may be more familiar to consumers.

Transparency and safety remain our top concerns and we will provide updates as additional information is available. For more information about listeria, please visit: www.cdc.gov/listeria/outbreaks/.

What you need to know:

  • Listeria monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
  • Dole Fresh Vegetables is coordinating closely with state and federal officials to determine the exact source of the listeria outbreak. Our website will be updated as new information is provided.
  • All production at the processing facility in Springfield, Ohio stopped on January 21, 2016. Recalled brands of packaged salads include Dole, Fresh Selections, Simple Truth, Marketside, The Little Salad Bar, and President’s Choice. Packaged salad products being recalled are identified with a product code beginning with the letter “A” in the upper right-hand corner of the package. Here’s an example of what the package product code would look like:
  • Consumers who have any remaining product with an “A” code should not consume it, and promptly discard it.
  • Since July 5, 2015, 15 people from six states have been reported being infected with listeria. Sadly, one person in the United States has died. Unfortunately, we do not know the exact circumstances, such as age or preexisting conditions. The Centers for Disease Control has not disclosed this information at this time.
  • Canadian health officials have also reported that 7 people were infected with listeria in five provinces and became ill between September 2015 and early January 2016. All individuals were hospitalized, and 1 person has died although it has not been determined if listeria contributed to the cause of death. We understand that the Centers for Disease Control believes 5 of these 7 cases are highly related to the listeria cases in the United States due to genetic testing.
  • All of the retailers who received the products being recalled have been contacted.
  • No additional Dole facilities are known to be affected at this time. Other Dole products, including fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and packaged salads from Dole’s other processing facilities (with product codes beginning with the letters “B” or “N”), are not part of this voluntary recall.
  • Below is a list of U.S. states included in the voluntary recall. Other states may have received recalled products through secondary distribution so this list may not be complete. Consumers should look for the “A” at the beginning of the manufacturing code found on the package.

o    Alabama

o    Connecticut

o    Florida

o    Georgia

o    Illinois

o    Indiana

o    Kentucky

o    Louisiana

o    Michigan

o    Massachusetts

o    Maryland

o    Minnesota

o    Missouri

o    Mississippi

o    North Carolina

o    New Jersey

o    New York

o    Ohio

o    Pennsylvania

o    South Carolina

o    Tennessee

o    Virginia

o    Vermont

o    Wisconsin

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a food recall warning for products made at this plant and reports that recalled salads have also been shipped to these provinces in Canada:

o    New Brunswick

o    Newfoundland and Labrador

o    Nova Scotia

o    Ontario

o    Prince Edward Island

o    Quebec

The type of salad blends produced at the Springfield, Ohio, plant were packaged in bags and clamshell containers and include:

  • American salads
  • arugula salads
  • Asian salads
  • bacon and bleu cheese salads
  • BBQ Ranch salads
  • Caesar salads
  • chipotle and cheddar salads
  • coleslaw
  • field green salads
  • garden salads
  • iceberg salads
  • Italian blend salads
  • kale salads
  • lettuce salads
  • Mediterranean salads
  • romaine salads
  • sesame ginger salads
  • Southwest salads
  • spinach salads
  • spring mix salads
  • spinach salads
  • sunflower salads
  • vegetable blend salads

If you have any concerns, please reach out to the Dole Food Company Consumer Response Center at 844-483-3865. Temporary extended hours are 8:00am-8:00pm EST, Monday – Friday.

Media inquiries should be directed to William Goldfield at 818-874-4647.

Please continue to enjoy all of our products which remain for sale at your favorite stores. We thank you for your continued trust and confidence in our products.

 

 

Here is some of the language Dole used to describe the risks from the crisis in financial filings:

 

Dole reported the listeria outbreak and resulting lawsuits are potential risks for the company.

“Even if a product liability claim is unsuccessful or it not fully pursued, the negative publicity surround any assertion that our products caused illnesses or injury could adversely affect our reputation with existing and potential customers and our corporate and brand image,” Dole’s SEC filing says.

“Moreover, claims and liabilities of this sort might not be covered by our insurance or by any rights of indemnity  or contribution that we may have against others.”

The financial filings go on to say that Dole has installed “proprietary produce wash technology in each of our salad manufacturing plants” and that it has implemented a sanitation program which “leverages the most recent advancements in cleaning chemistry.” Dole says it has gone with an “industry-leading” program for environmental surveillance and the “latest technology “for trending environmental test results within a produce processing environment.”

 

 

 

The Springfield facility was shut down for four months at a cost of $25.5 million to Dole.  The exact figures for the two recalls are available because the information is part of the SEC disclosures Dole provided in the 2017 effort to take the company public.  Dole is still being investigated by the Department of Justice for possible criminal charges from the recall.  The investigation centers on if Dole knowingly sold a product tainted with Listeria.  The case is a perfect example of the costs associated with a product harm crisis.  The case provides evidence for the need to mitigate crisis risks and costs an organization can incur from a crisis.

 

Questions to Consider

 

  1. What are the key communication concerns for Dole during and after the recall?
  2. How do product harm crises related to food safety illustrate how crisis and risk communication often merge?
  3. What effect does the Department of Justice investigation have on the crisis and crisis communication?
  4. How did Dole address the adjusting information needs in the crisis?

 

Greenpeace helps H&M to Detox: Paracrises and Social Media

September 27, 2011 original date

The Detox Campaign is an excellent example of how corporate social responsibility (CSR) can become a crisis risk.  Greenpeace uses H&M’s concern about CSR as leverage in an effort to change the company’s supply chain behavior.  The case is an example of how social media are excellent vehicles for creating paracrises by creating challenge crises.  Though more reputational than operational, challenges and paracrises still demand attention, analysis, and careful consideration about responses.

In July of 2011, Greenpeace began the Detox Campaign.  The purpose of the campaign is to eliminate the toxic chemicals being released into the water by textile manufactures.  Once again, the apparel industry was the target because they are purchasing the materials that are creating the toxins.  As Greenpeace stated:

“During our recent investigations, Greenpeace identified links between a number of major clothing brands – including the sportswear giants Nike and Adidas and the fast-fashion retailer H&M – and textile factories in China that are releasing hazardous chemicals into our rivers.”

 

Their publication, “Dirty Laundry 2:  Hung Out of Dry,” identified 15 major brands that were linked to the toxin producing textiles.  Among the brands specifically identified by name at the Detox web site are Nike, Adidas, and H&M. 

Puma was the first to accept the challenge and detox.  Here is their announcement:

In line with PUMA’s long-term sustainability program, the Sportlifestyle company PUMA recognizes the urgent need for reducing and eliminating industrial releases of all hazardous chemicals[1] . According to its approach based on prevention and precautionary principles [2], PUMA is committed to eliminate the discharges of all hazardous chemicals from the whole lifecycle and all production procedures that are associated with the making and using of PUMA products[3] by 2020.

PUMA understands the scope of the commitment to be a longterm vision – with short term practice to be defined in the clarification of actions to follow. To ensure transparency, PUMA will report on the progress of this commitment in its annual PUMA Sustainability Report.

An Action Plan will be set up by PUMA within eight weeks from the time this commitment was made.

 

[1]All hazardous chemicals means all those that show intrinsically hazardous properties (persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT); very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB); carcinogenic, mutagenic and toxic for reproduction (CMR); endocrine disruptors (ED). This will require establishing – ideally with other industry actors – a corresponding list of the hazardous chemicals concerned that will be regularly reviewed.

[2]This means taking preventive action before waiting for conclusive scientific proof regarding cause and effect between the substance (or activity) and the damage. It is based on the assumption that some hazardous substances cannot be rendered harmless by the receiving environment and that prevention of potentially serious or irreversible damage is required, even in the absence of full scientific certainty.

[3]This means the commitment applies to the environmental practices of the entire company and for the whole product-folio of the company. This includes, as a longterm vision, all its suppliers or facilities horizontally across all owned brands and licensed companies as well as vertically down its supply chain. As a first step – within 18 months – this will cover all Tier 1 and vertical suppliers across the PUMA brand. Through this step PUMA aims to exert power through its Tier 1 suppliers down to Tier 2 suppliers which include wet process.

Once Puma committed in July, Greenpeace upped the pressure on Nike and Adidas by issue a video challenge.  The video showed people dancing and stripping in front of Nike and Adidas stores around the world.  Nike jointed Puma in August followed a few days later by Adidas.  Here is the Adidas statement:

 

adidas Group’s Commitment to Zero Discharge of hazardous chemicals

Herzogenaurach, August 26, 2011

Context

Since July 2011 Greenpeace International has been campaigning to drive change in our industry. They are calling for the zero discharge of all hazardous and persistent chemicals at all points in global supply chains: from the cotton fields, to the mills and dye houses that make the fabric and the garment production. In China alone, there are an estimated 50,000 textile mills and hundreds of chemicals suppliers. To put this in context, the adidas Group buys fabric from 10 key textile mills and dye houses in China. These materials suppliers follow some of the strictest standards in the industry.

Greenpeace has directed its campaign towards sporting goods companies in the belief that they can act as a catalyst for change for the whole industry. Why? Because sporting goods companies, such as the adidas Group, are already widely recognised for their leadership when it comes to environmental sustainability. The adidas Group has one of the most stringent restricted substances policies of any consumer goods company operating in the apparel sector. We have been working successfully on the reduction and progressive elimination of hazardous chemicals in our supply chain for more than 15 years.

Greenpeace’s Detox campaign has been characterised as a competition among brands. The simple truth, however, is that there can be no “winners” unless the industry acts together. With that objective in mind, the adidas Group has together with other brands been working tirelessly in recent weeks to bring the industry together in a forum to develop a roadmap that will address the “zero discharge” challenge that Greenpeace has posed. That forum is planned to be held at the end of September in Amsterdam.

The following statement is our commitment to deliver change.

Our statement to Greenpeace

The adidas Group1 is committed to the goal of zero discharge2 of hazardous chemicals3 from our supply chain via all pathways, with a 2020 timeline.

The scale and complexity of this endeavour make this a very challenging task, which we will work on through an open and informed dialogue with all stakeholders.

If we are to deliver lasting solutions, our actions need to be guided by transparency, fact-based decision-making and based on a preventative, precautionary4 and integrated approach to chemicals management.

Within seven weeks, we will develop a roadmap specifically for the adidas Group and our entire supply chain, which will include programmes and actions that we commit to, including actions concerning disclosure. In addition, we will develop and disclose a joint roadmap to detail specific programmes and actions that we can take collectively with other brands to drive our industry towards the goal of zero discharge of hazardous chemicals.

This goal demands the collective action of industry, regulators and other stakeholders. We believe that the elimination of hazardous chemicals needs not only collaboration and partnership with our industry peers, but also a holistic and integrated approach. We will apply value-chain as well as life-cycle thinking and innovation throughout this process and to our approach for Integrated Chemicals Management.

Further, we recognise that to achieve the goal of zero discharge of hazardous chemicals, mechanisms for disclosure and transparency about the hazardous chemicals used in our global supply chains are important and necessary, in line with the ‘right to know principle’5.

A set of actions to be executed by the adidas Group within the period of these seven weeks will be:

Re-emphasising to our suppliers, T1 and nominated T2, the strict standards of our Environmental Guidelines and our Restricted Substances List (RSL).

 

Request information from our suppliers in relation to the use of NPEs6 in the manufacturing processes and request that they require of their sub-suppliers to avoid the intentional use of NPEs.

 

Request information from our T2 suppliers about their chemicals suppliers.

 

Give renewed notice to our suppliers that they must eliminate and replace hazardous substances that have been banned from use, with a non-hazardous chemical.

 

Increase the focus on chemicals management and wastewater treatment practices in our regular, comprehensive, environmental audit programme, with specific attention given to the T2 suppliers.

 

Begin developing a workshop approach for designers and product developers, where the understanding and knowledge of the colour choice consequences will be enhanced, as well as screening support is delivered. This work will be supported by our target-in-progress to reduce the number of colours used.

 

Continue our dialogue with peers to develop a joint roadmap.

 

Engage with other brands and associations to increase the leverage of such a joint roadmap.

 

Furthermore, we foresee that the joint roadmap would contain activities, research and decision milestones related to the following, specific aspects:

Application of a value-chain approach with a set of priorities and a phased approach.

 

Drive the implementation of a Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals.

 

Develop or apply an approach to structure inventories of hazardous chemicals.

 

Apply a rigorous and transparent verification procedure.

 

Develop a joint generic environmental audit approach, with specific attention to, but not narrowly focussed on, chemicals management. The additional purpose will be to begin sharing audit experiences and results between brands with the ultimate aim to improve environmental audit coverage and reduce duplication.

 

Develop a single standard of good environmental practices for dye houses. This will include sound chemicals management. The development will be done in wide consultation.

 

Work with chemicals suppliers to develop screening, selection criteria and prioritisation approaches to drive the elimination of hazardous chemicals and the substitution with less harmful chemicals.

 

Strive to define timelines for the phase-out of the prioritised hazardous substances.

 

Assess the need for inclusion of additional chemicals to the RSL.

 

Assess the need for inclusion of additional chemicals on lists of banned (from the manufacturing) chemicals.

 

Develop mechanisms to transfer experiences with banned, phased-out chemicals from region to region and promote the global implementation of bans that have already been successfully executed in one region.

 

Enter into a dialogue with scientists and regulators in different regions with the purpose of influencing the pace of regulation of hazardous chemicals and the diffusion of a global approach to regulation.

 

Many of these activities build on programmes and initiatives which the adidas Group is already committed to, through our existing industry collaborations, such as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the OIA (Outdoor Industry Association) Working Group on Toxics and AFIRM.

1adidas Group and its brands: adidas, Reebok, TaylorMade-adidas Golf, Rockport and CCM-Hockey.

2Zero discharge: Means elimination of all releases, via all pathways of release, i.e. discharges, emissions and losses, from our supply chain and our products.

3‘Hazardous chemicals’ means all those that show intrinsically hazardous properties (persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic (PBT); very persistent and very bio-accumulative (vPvB); carcinogenic, mutagenic and toxic for reproduction (CMR); endocrine disruptors (ED); or equivalent concern), not just those that have been regulated or restricted in other regions.

4Precautionary approach: It means that when scientific evidence suggests a substance may harm the environment or human health, but the type or magnitude of harm is not yet known, a preventative approach towards potentially serious or irreversible damage should be taken, recognising the fact that such proof of harm may not be possible. The process of applying the precautionary approach must involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including, where necessary, the development of harmless alternatives where they do not already exist.

5‘Right to know principle’ Is defined as practices that allow members of the public access to environmental information – in this case specifically about the uses and discharges of chemicals based on reported quantities of releases of hazardous chemicals to the environment, facility-by-facility, year-by-year.

6Nonylphenol ethoxylates.

Once Greenpeace had the three athletic apparel manufactures onboard, the attention shifted to Swedish-based retailor H&M.  In addition to the web site, Greenpeace provide links so that blogs and Tweets could feature H&M and the need to Detox raising the profile of the toxic clothes problem on search engines.  People were encouraged to question H&M’s efforts on H&M’s Facebook page, sign a Twitter petition, and, in the real world, activists began placing detox stickers on H&M store windows.  The result was meeting between H&M and Greenpeace resulting in H&M detoxing itself.  Here is the H&M statement:

 

H&M engages with Greenpeace

Greenpeace International is calling for zero discharge of all hazardous chemicals in the global textile supply chain. H&M shares this goal with Greenpeace; since 1995 H&M has been working practically to reduce the use and impact of hazardous chemicals using an approach based on the Precautionary Principle. This is a continuous process depending on development of science and technology and revisions will therefore be necessary in future, not limited to the period up to 2020.

Why has Greenpeace targeted a campaign against H&M? As a leading actor with a well reputed Chemicals Management, H&M has the size and ability to act as a catalyst for change in the industry. H&M has also recognized the importance of cooperation; the industry must act together to achieve zero discharge. One example of this is as member of the steering committee of AFIRM (Apparel and Footwear Industry RSL (Restricted Substance List) Management group). The aim of AFIRM group is to reduce the use and impact of hazardous substances in the apparel and footwear supply chain. H&M is also an active member in Sustainable Apparel Coalition.

H&M’s Chemicals Management includes one of the most stringent chemical restrictions in the apparel sector. H&M also makes sure that these restrictions are understood and applied in its supply chain.

H&M’s Commitment to Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals

H&M has since more than a decade recognized the urgent need to eliminate Hazardous (i) chemicals and has an approach based on prevention and the precautionary principle (ii).

H&M is committed to continuously eliminate the use of all hazardous chemicals and hence achieve zero discharge (iii) of the same from all production procedures that are associated with the making and using of H&M products (iv), at the latest by 2020 (f1).

We recognize that mechanisms for disclosure and transparency about the hazardous chemicals used in our global supply chains are important and necessary. In line with the right to know principle (v) we will increase the public availability and transparency of our restricted substance list and audit process and will set up public disclosure of discharges of hazardous chemicals in our supply chain. We will promote development of common standards towards this end.

H&M also commits to support systemic (i.e., wider societal and policy) change to achieve zero discharge of hazardous chemicals (associated with supply chains and the lifecycles of products) within one generation (vi) or less.

Due to the scale and complexity of this endeavour, true success can only be achieved by engaging with other companies in the apparel sector and stakeholders such as regulators, NGOs and the chemical industry. H&M will continue its efforts to create awareness and drive more responsible practices within the industry.

H&M is committed to continuously engage with and put demands on the chemical industry in order to spur innovation of safer alternatives to any chemical identified as hazardous. Similarly, H&M is committed to engage with material manufacturers to implement new technologies and safer chemicals as they become available.

H&M understands the scope of the commitment to be a long term vision – with short term practice to be defined in the clarification of actions to follow. An action plan will be set up by H&M within eight weeks from the time this commitment was made that will detail the measures to be taken to implement this commitment including timelines for public disclosure (f2) and for the elimination of the highest priority hazardous chemicals.

In addition, we will develop and implement a joint roadmap to detail specific programmes and actions that we can take collectively with other brands to drive our industry towards the goal of zero discharge of hazardous chemicals.

 

Actions already planned for execution by H&M within the period of these eight weeks include:

  • H&M’s publicly available list of restricted substances (vii) will be extended with technical information such as restricted limits and test methods 1st week of October. An updated version will be launched before the end of 2011 taking into account the intrinsic hazards approach.
  • Initiate investigation into how to increase the focus on chemicals management and wastewater monitoring practices in H&M’s environmental audit program, and how to make results more transparent, with specific attention given to discharges and factories with chemical intensive production processes such as wet processes.
  • Request information from our suppliers in relation to the use (e.g. for other brands) of Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) in the manufacturing processes and request that they require from their sub-supplier to not intentionally use and release NPEs. At the same time, we will re-emphasise to our suppliers that they are contractually bound to comply with the strict standards of our Restricted Substances List. As part of this request for information we will immediately provide Greenpeace the identity* of the suppliers responsible for the products tested in the Greenpeace Report, and the quantities of all alkylphenol ethoxylates (APE) discharges, and work with urgency to reinforce the controls on all possible releases of APE from their production.

*Our intent is to reveal this information under a non-disclosure agreement based on discussion with suppliers and the result of this investigation.

  • Request information from our suppliers about their chemicals suppliers – specifically on how they control and report on what chemical ingredients they are using.

Footnotes:

(f1) We recognize the need for continuous review of the identification process and elimination of hazardous substances based on the intrinsic properties science.

(f2) Note: the first data should be reported to the public by end 2012

(i) Hazardous chemicals means all those that show intrinsically hazardous properties (persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic (PBT); very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB); carcinogenic, mutagenic and toxic for reproduction (CMR); endocrine disruptors (ED); or equivalent concern), not just those that have been regulated or restricted in other regions.

(ii) Precautionary approach: It means that when scientific evidence suggests a substance may harm the environment or human health, but the type or magnitude of harm is not yet known, a preventative approach towards potentially serious or irreversible damage should be taken, recognising the fact that such proof of harm may not be possible. The process of applying the precautionary approach must involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including, where necessary, the development of harmless alternatives where they do not already exist. It is based on the understanding that some hazardous substances cannot be rendered harmless by the receiving environment (i.e. there are no `environmentally acceptable´ use or discharge levels)

(iii) Zero discharge means elimination of all releases, via all pathways of release, i.e. discharges, emissions and losses, from our supply chain and our products.

(iv) This means the commitment applies to the environmental practices of the entire company and for the whole product-folio of the company. This includes, as a long-term vision, all suppliers or facilities horizontally across all owned brands and licensed companies as well as vertically up the entire supply chain (to material suppliers and dyeing/finishing facilities, in particular those which include wet processes). As a first step – within 18 months – this will cover all directly contracted strategic suppliers across the H&M brand, with a focus on chemically intensive processes, including wet processes.

(v) Right to know is defined as practices that allow members of the public access to environmental information – in this case specifically about the uses and discharges of chemicals based on reported quantities of releases of hazardous chemicals to the environment, chemical by chemical, facility-by-facility, year-by-year.

(vi) Regarding societal: One generation is generally regarded as 20-25 years.

(vii) The list of restricted substances is the summary of chemicals with hazardous properties identified as relevant for H&M’s products and processes.

Selected Achievements and Actions in Line With Above

  • First Chemical Restriction list published in 1995
  • Phase out of PVC in 2002
  • Publicly engaging with Greenpeace in 2005 in a lobbying campaign for a stricter chemical legislation in EU
  • In 2005 setting up of audit process intended to shift focus from testing final products to chemicals management in factories to ensure restricted substances are controlled and avoided from the very beginning
  • In 2006 Screening for potential substances of very high concern (SVHC) relevant for H&M’s products with the goal of eliminating their use
  • As member of AFIRM’s (viii) steering committee, working with others to educate suppliers and promote a responsible chemicals management from 2006 and onwards
  • H&M was a major contributor to Chemsec’s (ix) first SIN-list in 2008 and engaged in lobbying activities for the same
  • From 2008 and onwards, H&M is engaging with the UN to develop global general practice for spreading information on chemicals in products.
  • From 2008, H&M has contributed to a bi-annual training programme (x) organized by Swedish Chemicals Agency and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency to improve chemical legislation and enforcement policies in developing countries.
  • H&M was the first major retailer to ban the use of Nonylphenol ethoxylates in 2009
  • H&M initiated in 2009 an industry wide project to develop a harmonized test method for Nonylphenol ethoxylates, finalized in 2010
  • H&M was the first major retailer to offer fluorocarbon-free garments with water repellent functional fabrics in 2010
  • Engagement in Sustainable Apparel Coalition (xi) from 2010 with the goal of developing a universal index to measure environmental and social performance of apparel products
  • In 2010 H&M started cooperation with chemical industry to conduct trials to convert traditional solvent based polyurethane (PU) material into water based PU.
  • H&M is the world’s number one buyer of organic cotton in 2010

In just ten weeks, Greenpeace had managed to mover four major apparel-related giants to action on detox. 

 

References

Coombs, T., & Holladay, S. (2015). CSR as crisis risk: expanding how we conceptualize the relationship. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 20(2), 144-162.

Souto, B. F. F. (2009). Crisis and corporate social responsibility: threat or opportunity?. International Journal of Economic Sciences and Applied Research, (1), 36-50.

Questions to Consider

1.  What is a major difference between the Puma and the Adidas announcements about the detox change?  Why do you think this difference occurred? 

2.  Why might it have been important the Detox campaign was using a mix on online and real world actions? 

3.  What CSR and reputational advantages does Puma gain by being the first to agree to the Detox campaign?

4.  How does H&M use the announcement as a means of building its CSR reputation?  How effect do you think that might be and why?

5.  Why do you think the Detox campaign has been so successful in such a short amount of time?

6.  How ethical is Greenpeace’s approach to the Detox campaign and what lead you to that evaluation?