Crisis Coach: This Product Recall Was Nuts!

by PR Coach

Tropical Nut & Fruit recall needed more complete info

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating. Food manufacturers are not doing a good enough job informing consumers and the media of product recalls.

Case in point? Tropical Nut & Fruit of Charlotte, NC which recalled “all its products containing walnuts supplied by Atlas Walnuts, LLC after November 16, 2010 because they have the potential to contain Salmonella.”

The problem is that Tropical’s Dec 10, 2011 FDA news release lacked key information needed by media and consumers including:

  • No contact person in its news release
  • No website reference in its news release
  • No company spokesperson quoted in its news release
  • No reference to the company website
  • And no recall or product recall info anywhere on its website.

That just doesn’t seem good enough.  Nor is it that difficult to be more forthcoming with basic information.

While the potentially contaminated walnuts were from its supplier Atlas Walnuts LLC, Tropical shares an obligation to go the extra mile in informing consumers to avoid potential harm.

For some reason, Atlas has no reference to the product recall on its website. Perhaps web info is being put together now? I can’t imagine why the FDA would not require disclosure of this product problem at source.

Tropical has a really warm statement of Our Values. Unfortunately, it’s not quite meeting its own standards when it comes to transparency and keeping its customers fully informed.  Wouldn’t the company look like it was more caring and concerned  if it provided recall info on its website?

So where can firms look for a blueprint for handling a food recall openly and effectively?

Liz Lovely Cookie Recall Was Tastily Handled

Liz Lovely cookie recall handled responsibly

On November 13, 2010 Liz Lovely Inc issued a voluntary product recall through the FDA. The concern was that a supplier may have provided chocolate with undeclared dairy ingredients.

Liz Lovely was forced to recall products containing chocolate or chocolate chips due to the possible risk of serious or life threatening allergic reactions to dairy products by some consumers. A big job for a small producer of organic, vegan and dairy-free products.

Liz Lovely’s FDA news release had the CEO’s name and phone number as a contact for more information. It also contains a working link to the company website. Not the usual ingredients in many of the product recall news releases we’ve seen.

On reaching the website Home Page in November, a highly visible banner link (since removed) read IMPORTANT! Learn about our Voluntary Recall leading consumers to a company statement about the product recall.

The “statement” is a heartfelt letter from CEO Dan Holtz to customers. He explains the situation clearly and simply. Products affected are identified and customers reassured that dairy-free products will resume shipping on December 1st. All in all, it’s well done.

The website has lots of company and product information and photos, management and staff bios, retail and wholesale information and an “In the Press” section. It’s not complicated and it’s relatively easy to do for any company.

Kudos to Liz Lovely Inc for its direct approach. They show how even a small company can handle a serious product recall properly.

Other businesses, particularly large corporations, can learn a lot from these New Englanders.

You can read other recent crisis PR posts including:
Crisis PR Coach: Bravo Farms Cheese Recall

PR Fail: ‘Cooks Source’ Stirs Up Crisis PR Broth

Crisis Coach: Good Earth Tea Recall Recovers
Crisis Coach: Marie Claire Stumbling Badly
Crisis Coach: Pictsweet Frozen Vegetable Recall

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Author:  Jeff Domansky is Editor, The PR Coach

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