Expanded Pet Food Recall

imageHopefully, all you pet owners have heard about the pet food recall from Ontario-based Menu Foods. When this story first broke, I didn’t realize how many brands were involved: Menu Foods supplies products to a lot of pet food companies! Go here to the Menu Foods website to see the list of dog and cat products affected. There are 50 dog food brands on the list, and 40 brands of cat food. For most of these brands, only a small portion of their product line is on the voluntary recall list.

There must be many consumers checking out this information. We buy Iams for our dog, and because that brand was on the Menu Food’s list, I went to the Iams website to get additional information. The link took forever to open because, no doubt, a lot of people were doing what I was doing. There was no problem with the product we buy.

Menu Foods seems to be doing all the right things, so far, to assuage public concern over this issue. However, they could still face difficult days ahead if there is a continuing problem. There is a press release on the link above that details their efforts. Recalls that are related to serious health issues—people or pets—present incredible PR challenges. How these issues are handled can profoundly affect companies for decades to come. The Tylenol scare will live for a long time as exemplary crisis management.

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The big difference between the Tylenol scare and the Menu Foods situation is that as more information became available to consumers in the Tylenol situation, the more people felt comfortable with the way the company handled quality and safety.  As I read more about Menu Foods and their processes, I am surprised that they don’t “walk the talk”. I’m troubled by a company that tests their products on pets, housing cats and dogs in deplorable conditions. It seems to me that if healthy pets and their owners are the target for Menu Foods products, it doesn’t make great sense to mistreat animals.  Can you imagine a situation where Tylenol would test tampered products on people?  From a brand standpoint, Menu Foods isn’t too clever.  As a result of learning more about Menu Foods, this consumer is switching to one of the many dog foods that doesn’t mistreat animals in the name of company profits.

sherrig Posted on: Mar 20, 2007 at 06:45 PM

I should add that I teach a branding 101 course and reference the Tylenol scare as a great example of recovering and building brand.  I’ll be using the Menu Foods situation as a case in point of how company processes can impact and damage a brand.  It’s not just a communications game when a brand is in trouble; when the spotlight is on, consumers want to see that the company’s mission and values are aligned to company actions and management processes.

sherrig Posted on: Mar 20, 2007 at 06:49 PM

Sherrig,

Something tells me this Menu pet foods scare is a long way from over. Depending on what happens in the days ahead, you will either have another good (or bad) example for your class. Certainly, it will bring more scrutiny to the company and the industry. If the allegations above are true, there is going to be a lot of explaining to do.

One of the things that struck we with the huge list of brands affected is how many brands are apparently selling the identical pet food under a different brand name. There’s a lesson (good or bad) in branding alone!

Greg

Greg Ness Posted on: Mar 21, 2007 at 08:42 AM

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