3/19/2007

Pet Food Recall

I was reading an article this morning in the New York Times about a recall on over 60 million cans of pet food by Menu Foods, a pet food manufacturer for companies including Proctor & Gamble, Nestle and Colgate-Palmolive. Gravy-style pet food that was made between December 3 and March 6 is being recalled due to ten pet deaths so far. Kidney disease is the cause of death among these animals and has been linked to the pets eating Menu Foods manufactured pet food. The cause? They do not know for sure but the timing coincides with a change in supplier of wheat gluten; however, Menu Foods will not name the supplier. Menu Foods is taking responsibility for this incident, whether it is the suppliers fault or because of something that happened inside their own plant. The recall and compensation effort is estimated to cost Menu Foods $30 to $40 million. When they announced these figures, stock prices dropped 26%. While this is surely going to hurt Menu Foods right away, I think it will help them in the long run. People who love their pets enough to buy them gravy-style pet food are going to appreciate Menu Foods for taking responsibility and trying to reconcile the mistake (whether ultimately theirs or not). It reminds me of the major Tylenol recall by Johnson and Johnson in the 1980's. This time we are obviously dealing with pets rather than human lives, but isn't dog man's best friend? I think this is a good move on Menu Foods part. It will help them to keep big names like Proctor & Gamble as customers. I think Menu Foods needs to be generous to the grieving pet owners, which will keep them out of court and better their image for the future. Consumers trust responsible companies.

2 comments:

Sebastian said...

I agree that Menu Foods did the right thing. I also agree that this may cause some consumers to trust Menu Foods and see them as a responsible company. However, how long down the road do you think it will take for other consumers to go back to Menu Foods? I think that many consumers hear or read about what happened and get a negative perception of Menu Foods. This negativity may always be with them. As a matter of fact, I have heard of people who also remember the Tylenol incident and will not buy Tylenol products. They remember the negative things that happened and not the positive.

Dr. Tufte said...

Everyone is right on this one: 1) Menu Foods did the right thing, but 2) this may stick with them for a long time.