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Case Study: Operational Plan Development / Organizational Crisis Readiness
Product Recall: Ecoli / Spinach Outbreak

To design and create a functional executable plan for a last minute product recall, on a nationwide scale for the United States.

The Natural Selection Foods spinach recall of September 2006 was a bankrupting disaster for the Californian producers, their distributors, their suppliers and end users in 29 states. With 20 E-coli outbreaks in the fresh food packaging industry since 1990, this high probability risk should have been recognized and a business continuity and readiness plan had to be created. Industry criticism that it is not as stringently regulated as it should be was already rife in Washington DC, and this particular national outbreak has now been recognized as setting the industry back years.

Food and Drug Administration, Twenty Nine various spinach brands nationwide, customers, shareholders, the Spinach industry, local economy and suppliers. Media and Broadcast, US exports, Significant increase in industry operating costs.

Due to time sensitivity in matters such as a recall, the type of plan fro this situation needs to be straight forward, easily understood and easy to implement in very short notice. The product producing company, Natural Selection Foods LLC, needs an executable organizational crisis readiness plan in place within its own structure. Once alerted to a possible situation, they need to react to the situation immediately and put their plans into action (Examples: notification of executive mgmt, official media statements, halt on current operations and contact with FDA)
The Rhiannon group would work with the client to have an effective communications design existing between all suppliers and distribution partners. An on site evaluation of all partners operational locations, to ensure they were physically equipped to deal with any situation, would have already been performed. A readiness exercise module would have to be practiced at each location periodically, to ensure all partners are ready. Only then could our client be in an effective position to perform a recall. The Rhiannon Group would ensure that our clients were educated in the government processes in dealing with these kinds of situations; again to be better prepared should a recall need to happen. Once the FDA had made a decision, our client and their industry partners are automatically ready to respond immediately nationwide scale, freeing up Natural Selection Foods LLC executive management time, to limit the impacts of the situation.

It is extremely important to recognize the impacts situations can have on your operation that are out of your control. The fresh food packaging industry is one such industry. However, there are processes you can out in place to limit the impact that adverse situations will have in any industry, and it is the client that has to recognize this fact, to stimulate the responses that will need to happen.

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