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December 17, 2012

What About When You’re Not Affected By A Recall?

Food Safety ConceptThat seems like a strange question to ask, doesn’t it?  If you’re not impacted by a big product recall then why do you need to worry?  Turns out you still do but for a very different reason and this was a lesson I learned from personal experience!

Several years ago there was a massive peanut butter recall that more or less caused national panic for about a week.  Newscasters relished is showing frantic mothers worrying over whether the PB&J they’d sent their kid to school with might be deadly and hysteria reigned.

The good news was that one of my products that contained peanut butter was not impacted.  I’d cross-referenced the Food Safety site against the list of manufacturers I used and there was no cross over so I was good to go.  Or so I thought…

Starting at about 4a.m. on Day 3 of the peanut butter crisis my phone started ringing.  It was my east coast retailers worried that about my product and wanting to find out immediately whether or not they needed to pull my product from their shelves.  That was just the beginning of a very very very long day of answering phone calls from retailers and customers all worried about my peanut butter product.  Once I had the chance to explain that my product wasn’t contaminated everyone calmed down but not before I was buried in emails and voicemails that took hours to dig out from.

What should I have done differently? 

Be proactive instead of reactive!  Get something up on your website, Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media site you use ASAP explaining that your product isn’t impacted and why (show that you’ve done your homework and checked to make sure the brands you use aren’t part of the recall).  Get something out to your e-newsletter database explaining the same thing.  Similarly, change the message on your voicemail to address potential concerns in advance.  Lastly, if you sell wholesale, try to quickly get a professional .pdf designed that you can email to your retailers and they can choose whether or not to print out and display that explains to their customers that your product is not impacted.

I actually had the chance to put all of the above into practice when yet another big ingredient recall happened a few years later.  This time, by acting on it proactively as soon as the recall occurred I saved myself, my customers, and my retailers a huge headache.  Best of all, by being proactive I helped build trust between my company and the customers/retailers I served.  They realized that they could trust me to always be looking out for them and that, for me, our relationship doesn’t end when the transaction is over.

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