Jan 9, 2009 update: Here is a 2008 Dec Report on Business article “The Testing of Michael McCain” that is worth reading.
Dear Mr. Michael McCain,
Maple Leaf Foods is embattled in a serious crisis with the confirmed Listeria cases (29) and deaths (12) (CBC with video) (see CTV news report and video here) (see NYT report here). You need no one to remind you that your company’s and your behaviour in the coming days and weeks will have the potential to make or break your company’s brands and reputations.
First off, I commend you and your PR team in accepting responsibility. “Tragically, our products have been linked to illness and loss of life. To those people who are ill, and to the families who have lost loved ones, I offer my deepest and sincerest sympathies“, said Michael McCain. “Words cannot begin to express our sadness for their pain.” And even using tools like YouTube video to get your message out.
Reading some of the strongly worded comments on your YouTube video initially lead me to question why would you leave the comment open. But then I soon come to the conclusion that it was the right thing (and probably the only thing) to do. The least you can do is to let some rightfully angry people scream and swear at you. And you can use the comments to gage the responses and anger of people.
Good luck to you and us all,
P.S. I just noticed that Maple Leaf Foods YouTube Channel was created on three days ago on Saturday August 23, 2008.
P.P.S. Here is my take on the class action lawsuit.
P.P.P.S. Here is a business note. This sad tragedy reminds us why the “Risk Factors” section is an integral component of the Management’s Discussion and Analysis of a company’s annual report (MFI 2007 annual report PDF). (emphasis added)
Food Safety and Consumer Health
The Company is subject to risks that affect the food industry in general, including risks posed by food spoilage, accidental contamination, product tampering, consumer product liability, and the potential costs and disruptions of a product recall. The Company actively manages these risks by maintaining strict and rigorous controls and processes in its manufacturing facilities and distribution systems and by maintaining prudent levels of insurance.
The Company’s facilities are subject to audit by federal health agencies in Canada [K: seems to be insufficient and not working in this case.] and similar institutions outside of Canada, and performs its own audits to ensure compliance with its internal standards, which are generally at, or higher than, regulatory agency standards. However, the Company cannot guarantee that compliance with procedures and regulations will necessarily mitigate the risks related to food safety.