By the time an outbreak or a recall happens, everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong.
There are no food companies immune to recalls or outbreaks. The list includes the who’s who of food production. While completely eliminating the risk of adverse events is not possible, what we can do is design food safety and quality systems that drastically reduce risks (see crisis prevention). We have over three-decades of experience dealing with major food borne outbreaks in the United States and globally. IEH specializes in providing support to food producers facing recalls and outbreaks.
In a crisis situation there is a need for an overall crisis manager to deal with the tsunami of events that can overwhelm even the most seasoned food safety experts. These include but are not limited to:
Epidemiological data from state health departments and the CDC.
Whole genome sequencing and metagenomics data from CDC, FDA or USDA.
Laboratory testing information from states, FDA, USDA, and commercial labs.
Interactions with regulatory agencies (FDA, FSIS, CFIA, etc.)
Determining the validity of the data and regulatory demands.
Determining the root cause and implicated products.
Carving out the scope of the recall.
Ensuring that the recall is not expanded.
Designing and implementing a new food safety system that addresses the root cause of the current event, and also protects against other weaknesses in the system.
Design and implementation of monitoring Process Control Protocols.
Communicating to the customer base, consumers, regulators, insurance companies, and the news media.
Ensuring that the effected and potentially effected consumers are communicated with, their concerns are addressed, and epidemiological data is collected (through design and implementation of questioner instruments and call centers).
Addressing the needs of the impacted consumers and not to force them into litigation.
Working with legal teams to prepare for potential trade and bodily injury litigation.
Working with regulatory agencies to minimize the possibility of criminal investigation and charges.
Educating the market to the new food safety plan and the food safety objectives of the company.