By Christie Keith
October 22, 2009
In an epic example of missing the point, Wysong pet food company has updated its recall information to include the following Q&A (h/t to reader Sandi Shaw):
I am seeing many bad and scary comments on the Internet. Who am I to believe?
The Internet provides a means for anyone to say anything without regard to merit. We have provided the facts with regard to this incident. We are the only ones who know them.
Is that not totally awesome? I mean, how many companies really are willing to come right out and say something like that?
It seems Wysong took exception to some earlier internet reporting (including, apparently, ours) about its handling of the recall and what some saw as inadequate efforts to notify those who might have purchased the affected foods. And just who was the authority the company invoked to demonstrate it had handled the matter with the highest standard of responsiveness?
We did all we could think of to do as fast as we could. This includes contacting the FDA. After days of review by them at our corporate and manufacturing sites, they advised that we could not have reasonably done more than we did. The matter was of small enough consequence that we have even been told by the FDA that a news release is not necessary.
Yes, the villains of the pet food recall themselves, whose efforts to track sick and dead pets were called out in Congress as a national disgrace, who completely failed to keep melamine and related compounds out of the human food chain, who still don’t inspect imported foods even after the seemingly unending series of contamination incidents involving human foods and drugs as well as pet food.
Let me be blunt here. The fact that processed foods can become contaminated is not exactly breaking news. And even companies with good practices and strong quality assurance systems can have problems. In fact, sometimes food we make ourselves at home spoils or becomes contaminated. That’s not the issue here.
The issue is transparency. The issue is rapid and effective corporate communication and good citizenship. The issue is protecting your customers. It’s an issue that’s bigger than the pet food industry — in fact, it’s bigger than industry itself, as it applies to corporations, government, and all kinds of communities.
Do you have a problem? Did something, big or small, go wrong? Be honest. Be fast. Be open. When things go wrong, stand up and make them right. That’s what sets the great institutions apart from the rest.
Whining that bloggers are mean? We call that FAIL.