When a consumer reads the back of a food label the last thing they are looking for are the nutritional values for glass, metal, and other inedible items.
- Why am I putting this in my body?
- Why this is or is not healthy for me?
- How is this food item prepared?
The last things they are going to expect is one of these inedible items mentions early.
Unfortunately, they are many cases where this happens.
Whether it is a mother who found glass in her baby’s food, or the four patients at different Kaiser Permanente Hospitals in Northern California who each discovered glass in their soup on February 29, 2010.
Or, how about when Kraft Foods Global, Inc. voluntarily recalled 137,000 Velveeta Shells & Cheese Single Serve Microwaveable Cups due to the possible presence of small, thin wire bristles.(Kraft, September 30, 2011; FDA, October 3, 2011).
Need a recent example.
How about the massive recall of Mar’s across 55 countries after plastic was discovered in a range of chocolate bars. According to BBC News, Mars submitted the recall “because of fears that customers could choke on pieces of plastic.”
Reputation Management & Lawsuits
We are neither experts at law, nor public relations experts, however, it seems to us that the respective companies responsible for the foreign containment in the food in the given examples each responded well.
After all, as empathized by Lawyer.com
With the millions of tons of food that is prepared, canned, wrapped, jarred, or otherwise processed by humans or machines in the US and around the world, you have to expect some mishaps. Try as they might, food manufacturers and suppliers simply can’t catch everything all the time.
Yet, for all the companies the reaction and reality was the same … an experience of embarrassment and/or litigation.
As stated in an article Lessons In Law, “the sad reality is that anyone can sue anyone for anything. All it takes to sue someone is a petition and the filing fees, and sometimes not even the filing fees.
In fact, we found that people actually are eager to sue.
A Google search for the term “found something in my food can I sue” rendered about 40,100,000 results in .29 seconds, [see yellow highlight below].
While most lawyers seem to suggest suing is a waste of time, because:
“First, you would have to prove that the object was in the can when it left the factory. Second, you have to prove your damages…”
People impacted emotionally from the scare still sue hoping to get some type of settlement.
Fortunately for CPG manufacturers and food processors, the courts typically only reward plaintiffs if there are:
- Cuts in the mouth, throat and/or damaged teeth
- Illnesses due to ingestion of the object
- And yes Mars, choking on plastic
Nonetheless, the experience can still be expensive in terms of damage to your brand.
CPG X-Ray Inspection Equipment The Right Solution For Food Packagers