The massive pet food recalls of 2007 which resulted in the deaths of or serious illnesses in hundreds to possibly thousands of pets – depending on differing reports – was the greatest tragedy in the history of the commercial pet industry. The Diamond recalls of 2012 were no picnic, either. Unfortunately, recalls are pretty much a fact of life in the modern age. Here are some important steps pet retailers can take if they carry pet foods that are subject to recalls.
Time Required: Varies, depending on the severity of the situation and customer base
- Don't panic. Remaining calm will enable you to handle this and any other crisis situation proactively, and will help you to maintain your customers' trust.
- Alert your customers, immediately, through an e-mail blast. Be sure to employ language that's informative, yet non-frightening. But do offer non-defensive apologies, assuring your customers that you have their pets' best interests at heart, and that you and your staff are doing everything in your power to remedy the situation. Meanwhile, advise customers to cease feeding their pets the recalled food immediately, and return any remaining portions to your store.
- Prominently place an alert on your pet store's website and/or blog, employing the same tips as in the previous step.
- This should be done at the same time as the above steps; teamwork is required here. Immediately remove all of the recalled pet foods from your shelves and store these in boxes or other containers. Place in an office, closet or other storage space.
- Contact the company or your product representative. In some cases, the Food and Drug Administration will initially alert the public about recalled pet foods. Hopefully, the company that manufactured the recalled pet food will have done so first. Regardless, contact the company either via e-mail or phone for details about the recall, and any further instructions.
- Keep your customers updated through your website, social media pages and/or blog on a regular basis. Invite them to contact you with any questions or concerns.
- If customers contact you to inform you that their pets are showing signs of illness, advise them to contact their veterinarians or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hot line at (888) 426-4435. Jessica Rushin, manager, client services, for the ASPCA advises: "Signs like loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, changes in water consumption or changes in urination should be reported and the pet should be treated. It may also be useful to save some of the food in question so that it can be analyzed, if needed."
- Following the recall, be sure to stay informed about any other potential pet food issues on an ongoing basis. Rushin suggests: "Notices are often sent out when recalls are issued, however, it is useful for both pet parents and pet store owners and staff to be proactive about keeping informed. The FDA website www.fda.gov lists recall information. Issues with pet food can also be reported to the FDA. You can additionally learn more at the ASPCA website, which lists pet food recall information, as well.
What You Need
- Common Sense
- A Cool Head
- Customer Contact Information
- Contact Information for the Pet Food Manufacturer
- Boxes or Other Storage Containers