Can You Give Customers too much of your Product?

It turns out you can give customers too much of a product.  Bombay Sapphire had to recall some gin because the alcohol content was too high.  The gin was 77% alcohol instead of 40%.  The recall occurred in Canada and was announced by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. The full announcement is provided below.  This is an operational crisis because it requires the recall of a product and that is disruptive to how an organization functions.  Moreover, the cause of the crisis is direct result of the production process which requires some attention and correction.


Food Recall Warning – Bombay Sapphire brand London Dry Gin may be unsafe due to high alcohol content

Recall details

Ottawa, May 2, 2017 – The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) is recalling Bombay Sapphire brand London Dry Gin from the marketplace due to high alcohol content. Consumers should not consume the recalled product described below.

This recall was initiated after the discovery that, during production, one batch was bottled before correct dilution to achieve the stated 40% alcohol content by volume. As a result, the affected batch has alcohol content by volume of 77%.

Recalled products

Brand Name Common Name Size Code(s) on Product UPC
Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin 1.14 L L16304 W 6 20213 19020 8

What you should do

Check to see if you have recalled product in your home. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.


This recall was triggered by the company. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing recalled product from the marketplace.


There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

This was the second case in recent history of Canadian authorities finding a beverage where the alcohol content was too high.  Bacardi makes Bombay Sapphire and there has been little messaging from either the home office or from the brand’s digital presence.  Here is the message that was emailed to CBC News: “We do not recommend consumption of this product.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Why might the company and the brand say little about the recall?
  2. What advice would you give the organization about communicating in this crisis?
  3. Is it important for stakeholders to know more about how or why the dilution error occurred? Why or why not?
  4. Why might you consider this an easy operational crisis to manage?
  5. All food recalls have problems with people continuing to consume the product, even when they know the risk. Why might getting people to return or not consume the product be particularly problematic in this case?  What risks does that create for Bacardi and Bombay Sappire?
  6. What might Bacardi do to increase compliance with the recall?



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