Ritz was taking no chances with the health of its consumers—or its reputation.
Parent company Mondelez International issued a recall for several products over fears of salmonella contamination in one key ingredient. Ritz announced the recall in a tweet:
Mondelēz Global LLC announced a voluntary recall in the United States, Puerto Rico & the U.S. Virgin Islands, of certain Ritz Cracker Sandwiches and Ritz Bits product. For a full list of affected products please visit: https://t.co/q5CvZN9VTb— Ritz crackers (@Ritzcrackers) July 21, 2018
The tweet links to a press release that reads, in part:
Mondelēz Global LLC announced today a voluntary recall in the United States, including Puerto Rico & the U.S. Virgin Islands, of certain Ritz Cracker Sandwiches and Ritz Bits product. These products contain whey powder as an ingredient, which the whey powder supplier has recalled due to the potential presence of Salmonella.
Salmonella is a microorganism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.
This recall is limited exclusively to the products listed in the grid below, available at retail stores nationwide. No other Mondelēz Global LLC product is included in this recall.
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The company emphasizes that the recall is voluntary and that there have been no reports of infection from eating any Ritz products.
On social media, users and news outlets shared graphics that illustrated which products should be thrown out.
Others shared the warning and asked for retweets to reach more people:
If you have Ritz products, throw them out. There has been a massive salmonella outbreak at the company.— Kyle Allen Music (@KyleAllenMusic) July 22, 2018
Retweet to warn others.
Some news outlets looked to other salmonella incidents to gauge Mondelez’ efforts. Ritz has earned kudos by being proactive; generally, recalls come in response to reports of sickened consumers.
Recent weeks have seen a spate of salmonella outbreaks, with other recalls impacting packages of pre-cut fruit and Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal. More than 150 people were sickened in those two cases, but Mondelez says no illnesses have been reported in connection with the recalled Ritz products. As with most such recalls, however, consumers are advised to immediately dispose of any impacted product.
Here are three lessons from the Ritz crisis response:
1. Define the problem.
In announcing the recall, Ritz defined salmonella and listed the possible consequences of ingesting contaminated food. By explicitly stating the concerns, Ritz demonstrated its knowledge and provided an information hub for consumers, while easing public fears.
2. Offer ways to learn more.
In a crisis, it’s essential to offer complete information and grab your audience’s attention. These two goals can work against each other if your first point of contact is too dense or complex.
Instead, get users to engage with your message by offering a link so they can learn more about the issue. Clearly state the problem, and link to your in-depth analysis. This way, you will get maximum attention for your social media post or press release, while providing complete information to consumers.
3. Be aggressive.
By acting before the crisis deepened, Mondelez demonstrated a deep concern for customers and perhaps bypassed a PR catastrophe. In a crisis you must be assertive and take immediate, proactive steps or your risk will deepen, and you could lose consumer trust.
What do you think of Mondelez International’s crisis efforts, PR Daily readers?
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