The Real Problem with Dog Food Recalls

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These days, dog food recalls have become far too common.  And when you also consider “people food”, the notices appear almost daily.

And that’s no exaggeration.  If you don’t believe me, just follow the FDA’s Twitter feed.  Or try searching Google for the word “recall”.

I can assure you… the bad news is endless.

Yet it’s not the dog food recalls themselves I find so alarming.

No.  After all, with the manufacture of any food product… the threat of accidental contamination is a constant concern.

Mold, insects, chemicals… you name it.  They’re all a real challenge.

You know, considering the size of the market itself… plus all the mass production systems out there… it’s truly amazing we don’t hear more about dog food recalls than we do.

Yet whether we like it or not, problems like these must be expected.

The Real Problem with Dog Food Recalls…
A Lack of Corporate Integrity

What really frustrates me is the covert and evasive manner in which so many dog food companies choose to conduct themselves during the recalls themselves.

For example, during the past few weeks there have been no less than two voluntary dog food recalls… both of them improperly handled.

The first company announced the possibility of plastic fragments in some of its dog food products.  But look how the news was handled.

The Wrong Way to Announce
a Dog Food Recall

Now, check this out…

In its press release, the manufacturer avoided using the word “recall” altogether… thereby flying under the radar of the Internet’s search engines.

Instead of using the more familiar term, “recall”… it disguised the event itself by referring to it as a “voluntary retrieval”.

As a matter of fact, nowhere in the company’s official press release was the word “recall” ever mentioned… not even once!

So, why should you care about this?

OK… say you’d heard through the grapevine about a possible dog food contamination problem.  To confirm the news, would you really go to Google and search for the phrase “voluntary retrieval”… or would you more probably have chosen to look for the words “dog food recall”?

Was this an oversight?  Or was it a deliberate attempt by the company to deceive shoppers and shield its corporate image?

Now, in all fairness, it appears the firm acted commendably to quickly contain the spread of the affected products.

Talk about a wasted opportunity!

Wouldn’t this have been the perfect time for the company to enhance its long term reputation by highlighting their prudent actions by making it easy for us to find this critical information?

Uh-Oh!  Here We Go Again

Now, the second company had a different problem.  It discovered mold contamination in some of its products.

This is an unfortunate (but not a particularly uncommon) problem with many kinds of packaged foods.

However, the manufacturer elected to issue its recall notice to distributors only… bypassing consumers (at least, in the beginning).

I believe this was a huge public relations blunder.

A Clever Way to Make Any Dog Food Recall
Virtually Disappear from the Internet

The error was compounded when the company published the notice as a page on its website… with no conspicuous link to that page… basically rendering it completely invisible to the public.

The only way I personally became aware of the recall itself was when I found a link to the hidden page on another website [link deleted by moderator due to presence of malware].

Now, think about it… what good is posting a recall notice on the Net if there’s no visible link to it?

Bowing to a rash of public criticism, the company (a few days later) went on to issue a more lengthy notice… but now the firm spent much of its time defending its actions.  You could almost hear the frustration in their words.

As my dad used to say… when you tell somebody something before it happens… it’s “information”.  But when you wait to tell them after it’s a problem… it becomes an excuse.

Like the first company, this manufacturer had also passed up a terrific opportunity to turn a lemon into lemonade… to build integrity.. and enhance its long term corporate image.

The Right Way to Announce a Dog Food Recall

To dog food companies everywhere, I say…

The days of insider information in your industry are over.  This is the Age of the Internet… of global community… of sharing information openly… and honestly.

Today, dog owners talk… and talk a lot.  We read blogs and meet in online forums.  We join social networks.  And we spread the word… everywhere we go.

What would you like for us to say about you the next time you have to deal with a recall one of your products?

You know, we don’t love it when they happen.  But we really do understand that sometimes product recalls are necessary.

All we ask is that when they are necessary that you act with integrity.  We expect…

  1. Speedy notification for each and every dog food recall
  2. Accessible public posting of all recall details on the Internet
  3. Use of the search-friendly term “recall” in all communications

In the long run, responsible pet food manufacturers are more quickly forgiven of their “sins”… than thoughtless ones.

So, remember… in the unpleasant world of dog food recalls, integrity pays.

Visit our Dog Food Recalls summary page for an index of links to all the Advisor’s most recent product recall reports.