Crisis Coach: Pictsweet Frozen Vegetable Recall

by coach on October 19, 2010

Froen vegetables recalled for glass fragments

We’re watching Pictsweet Co of Bells, TN which on Oct 15 recalled 24,000 pounds of frozen green peas and other vegetables in a single lot of 12-oz containers. Packages may contain broken glass fragments in products supplied to some regional Walmart and Kroger stores.

In several initial media reports, Pictsweet looks like it’s handling the issue fairly well:  Christian Science Monitor, CNN and WebMD.

It alerted the FDA, distributors, retailers and consumers. Its news release and FDA release are clear and comments in media are appropriate and reasonable. Consumers are being told to return the product to retail outlets.

Three things are of concern however: nothing appears on the company website about the recall; there’s no newsroom for media contact, especially after hours; and the 1-800 phone number is also not available from its website leaving consumers to find out about the recall only through the media, internet or in-store.

Also, the help number is active only during business hours, Monday to Friday – surprising, possibly risky, not transparent and not really good enough these days.

In social media, the company has no apparent profile. Twitter already has many mentions of the recall, mostly connecting to the news release or news reports, though the company has no official Twitter presence. On Facebook, there are reports of a company worker fatality and mention of the recall but no “official” company presence there either.

Crisis PR Assessment

The company has a PR agency assisting and moved quickly to get out its initial alert and statement of facts. As a food company, it must follow stringent guidelines when it comes to product recalls and safety. The lack of website resources is probably typical for most small to mid-sized companies. However, it is a glaring weakness in terms of crisis response and crisis management.

As this item was being posted, reports of an employee fatality were just breaking though not necessarily related to the product recall. We’ll keep an eye on how Pictweet responds and manages its issues.

There are lots more crisis planning and crisis management tips in the PR Library.

We plan to issue regular posts in the future, noting how companies are managing their crises, looking for crisis PR best practices and sharing what we learn. Let us know how you like this feature in the comments below.

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