Recalls aren’t seasonal. They can happen to any product, from any company, at any time of the year. But as the saying goes, perception is reality, and that is also true when a recall is issued for a product near the holiday when it is most likely to be used. Since food products are often most likely to gain widespread attention anyway, when the two factors intersect, companies can often be carved up by the media and consumers.
It has happened before. While news of turkey recalls have often been hoaxes, many of “the fixins” have been recalled shortly before or soon after Thanksgiving in recent years. Recall prevention may not always be possible, but there are steps companies can take to minimize the impact. Taking swift action when a problem is discovered helps protect consumers and avoid the appearance of intentionally delaying the announcement until a time when most families are too busy to pay attention. Communicating recall information effectively and consistently through multiple channels can help ease anxiety and tame bad publicity.
Another added headache for holiday recalls is staffing. When you consider all the people involved at each step of the recall life cycle, it’s easy to see how just a few people being off work would make recall execution more difficult. One of the biggest concerns surrounds response management. Depending on the type of product and the hazard involved, calls could flood in from panicked home cooks. It’s not uncommon for consumers to hear a clip on the news or catch incomplete information on social media that prompts them to call in – even when they purchased a different brand altogether. If fewer call center agents are available because of the holiday, wait times could add to the concern and frustration.
Retrieval can also be more difficult. When stores are slammed with last-minute shoppers, one of two things can happen: the recall falls through the cracks, leaving consumers vulnerable and exposing manufacturers to additional liability, or retailers that would normally take time to pinpoint only those lot numbers and codes that fall under the recall may scrap that painstaking process in favor of “shelf sweeping” – when entire brands or product lines are removed. When that happens, consumers may choose to purchase a competitor’s brand or do business with another retail location, impacting both manufacturers’ and retailers’ bottom lines immediately, and potentially indefinitely. In both instances, a team of recall and retrieval specialists can help swiftly remove affected product – and only affected product – from the market. In addition to ensuring compliant recall execution, this team can greatly mitigate overall recall costs and potential disruptions in sales. With a clear recall plan, dedicated team, and effective response management, companies can keep Thanksgiving recalls from becoming a recipe for disaster.
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