Product Recall

Possible food contamination prompts a baking company recall


An independent baking company with distribution in the Northeast United States


Senior management was shocked to discover that the company had to immediately recall a large quantity of its main product - four-inch snack fruit pies. The problem, which led to the recall of more than 200,000 pies, occurred when workers changed the baking line from producing pecan pies to eight assorted flavors. The assorted flavor pies were thought to contain a pecan residue on the product surface that could have affected a segment of the population with deadly allergies to nuts.

Strategy and Plan:

All available resources began contacting distributors and wholesalers who handled the product. Within the first hour, the company notified the FDA. Information and product code information was exchanged. The company retained a national expert on food recalls who began sophisticated lab testing to determine the level of any contamination. Also within an hour, N&A developed a press release for distribution along the East Coast. A letter was dispatched within a day to all customers, and senior management made personal calls to major distributors. A hotline was also set up.


Fortunately, lab results showed there were no ill effects from the product line changeover. What could have been a disastrous sequence of events for the company was managed professionally and expeditiously. No formal action was taken by the FDA. In a short period of time, the company signed a major deal with a large department store chain that expanded it business. Most importantly, the hard-earned reputation of the company for food quality remained intact. They won a major contract because of how senior executives "managed" the problem from every aspect.