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Thursday, 7 March 2013

Out from the Trenches of Product Recalls - Professional Casualties and Crusaders

Who suffers from the adverse effect of a food-borne outbreak the most, the operation providing the defective product, the victims, the relatives of victims, the industry or society at large?

Simply doing what everybody else is doing no longer cuts it. 
One hard knock and recovery could be tough.

In the words of a once popular reggae song by Jimmy Cliff, Who feels it knows it. 

We all suffer the consequences but not all of us know it. The victims
and their relatives certainly do feel the direct negative effect of a food-borne outbreak. They are not alone.

Company owners, proprietors and chief executive officers feel and know the pain when major recall incidents occur that involve products from their companies. For company owners with a conscience, the pain is most excruciating where their products are  known to have caused harm to consumers. Nobody wants to go through that experience. Even competitors in the same business suffer the pain as sales of products drop because of public fear. 

The front-line product safety and quality managers also feel and know the pain. They are right on the firing lines and are most likely to be among the first professional casualties following such harmful product recalls. Otherwise glowing resumes become undoubtedly tainted and the prospects of being hired by other companies quickly erode. The situation worsens where potential employers are aware of the events at the current or previous employers.

What can and should product safety managers do if they happen to have the misfortune of being the ones in charge when products caused harm to consumers?

Other groups from the trenches of harmful product recalls are made up of external consultants, auditors and auditing companies that may have worked with the affected companies. These groups are also on the firing lines as the hunt for scapegoats expands. In spite of attempts to distance themselves from the unfortunate events, these external parties suffer the consequences of damaged reputation. If their credibility is not completely destroyed, it is, at least, tainted.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding such incidents, should current or future employers have less confidence in the managers, external consultants, auditors and auditing companies? 

GCSE-Food &Health Protection  believes that such managers, consultants, auditors and auditing companies could become great crusaders after going through the trenches as it were. Hence the coalition does not subscribe to the current tendency of treating these groups as the scapegoats. The coalition believes that the terrain gets the blame for a rough ride; rather than the vehicles. 

Some may like to be observers; some may like to be active participants; some may even want to be critics; everyone is welcome: You can do more than you may be imagining right now.

Posted by Felix Amiri

Felix Amiri is currently the chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection, and a sworn SSQA advocate.

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