Product harm crises common but serious issues for organizations. Product harm crises can place customers in danger. Hurting consumers is a serious risk for any organization. In the food industry, product harm crises are often called food safety crises. People are most concerned about products they consume or place on their skin making food safety crises potentially a massive problem. Again, food safety crises are common with hundreds per year in the U.S. alone. Any firm involved in the food industry should be prepared for a food safety crisis.
The number one priority during a food safety crisis needs to be the consumers. Harming consumers is a horrible form of negative publicity for a firm. The crisis communication must feature instructing information—telling consumers how to protect themselves from the danger. A food safety crisis is one of those crises where people really want or need the crisis messages because they could be at risk of harm. Not all crises, especially reputational crises, create such stakeholder demands/needs for information.
Oddly, the data finds that food companies are hesitant to use their won social media channels for communicating recalls to consumers. Around 10% for food companies will place recall information on their Twitter feeds or Facebook pages. This reality runs counter to industry and governmental recommendations to food companies to use their digital channels during a recall (food safety crises demand a recall).
Recently, Bush Brothers & Company had to recall certain types of their baked beans. Can seems in certain batches could be defective so the recall was initiated to protect consumers from the potential danger. The risk was discovered internally and there were no known illnesses at the time of the recall. Below is the text of the full message. The Bush Twitter feed and Facebook page announced the recall and provided a link the message below. People are told the exact product with the problem and to throw the product out (instructing information). Bush Brothers added an apology for the inconvenience caused by the situation. Their words match their actions—the firm is showing concern for consumers.
Text of the Recall Message:
A Message For Our Customers July 22, 2017
For more than 100 years, Bush Brothers & Company has been dedicated to producing the highest quality products for our valued consumers, customers and their families.
On July 22, 2017, we announced a voluntary recall of certain 28 ounce cans of BUSH’S® Brown Sugar Hickory Baked Beans, Country Style Baked Beans and Original Baked Beans due to potentially defective side seams on the cans. This recall was initiated after our internal quality assurance checks identified the issue. Subsequent investigations indicated a temporary quality issue from one of our can suppliers. The problem was corrected and no other product is affected.
As a fourth generation family owned business, we are guided by our values of integrity, caring, responsibility, and trust and we apologize for any inconvenience or concern this situation may cause. It’s important to note that, to date, no illnesses or other adverse consequences have been reported in connection with this voluntary recall; however, we urge you to dispose of these affected products immediately even if the beans do not look or smell spoiled. We are working with our retailers to ensure timely removal of affected product from their warehouses and shelves.
To view the affected Lot Numbers and Best By dates, please see below. BUSH’S® Consumer Relations is available to answer any questions you may have by calling 1-800-590-3797 Monday-Friday between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. Information may also be found on our website at http://www.bushbeans.com.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through this issue. We appreciate your continued loyalty.
Questions to Consider
- Why would food companies choose not to use their social media channels to communicate information about a product recall?
- What is the danger of not using social media channels during a food safety recall?
- How did the message from Bush Brothers go beyond just instructing information and how might that further help the company during this crisis?