Pet Food Recall: Assuaging Anxiety and Calming Fears
2007 was the year of the recall: spinach, toys, and pet food. In the pet food situation, an intense investigation by the government and industry found that melamine, a foreign agent that can create the false appearance of increased levels of protein, had been introduced to raw ingredients imported from China. That the contamination was traced to China only fueled American insecurities.
As U.S. pet owners confronted unprecedented levels of fear and anxiety, the pet food industry needed to calm a nervous public and assure families in every corner of the country that their pet food was safe.
A National Pet Food Commission was created to manage the media covering the recall and to calm a tense national audience. Industry and government leaders worked in tandem around the clock to isolate the affected market segment and identify the bad actors, while the very creation of the Commission underscored how the industry itself was playing a leadership role in solving the problem.
A Synovate E-Nation survey conducted just weeks after the first instance of contaminationwas discovered led one researcher to say, “For the most part, people feel their pets were unaffected by the recall.” In the end, only 3 lawsuits were filed – far fewer than industry lawyers and legal experts expected.