2007 was the year of the recall: spinach, toys and pet food. The pet food recall raised anxiety levels amongst pet loving consumers to well over 90%. Other than baby food and products, nothing engenders more consumer fear than pet food issues.
An intense investigation by the federal 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 into the U.S., which further 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 nationwide survey conducted just weeks after the first instance of contamination was discovered led one researcher to say, “For the most part, people feel their pets were unaffected by the recall.” In the end, only three lawsuits were filed – far fewer than industry lawyers and legal experts expected.
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