IAMS media spokespeople had a rough weekend. Their Thanksgiving holiday was rudely interrupted by a flurry of stories that some of their pet food was being recalled for elevated levels of aflatoxin. Frantically scrambling to contain the damage, their efforts were thwarted by an ill-conceived plan to attempt to convince consumers that a recall is not really a recall and it is really a pull, not a recall. Really, it’s true.
On Friday, food safety author and microbiologist Phyllis Entis unearthed the offending IAMS pet food recall notice discretely placed on an obscure website. Pet food safety expert Susan Thixton ran the story and with that pet parents and bloggers interrupted their own Thanksgiving holiday weekends to spreading the news, much to the dismay of IAMS, across the internet. So, by the time Monday rolled around, the damage to IAMS had been thoroughly and completely done.
As any corporate spokesperson worth his salt will tell you maxim of weary spin doctors, “you can’t unring a bell”. Despite having the misfortune to choose such a thoroughly unpopular profession as spokesperson, a few of the delusional ones still hold the belief they possess the ability to achieve the impossible, the skill to unring a bell.
I don’t know whether to pity them or mock them for their failed attempt to reverse, what clearly was, a seriously damaging report. Their best effort to explain the recall of the aflatoxin contaminated pet food was to try to convince consumers it wasn’t really a recall, just an unfortunate choice of words. IAMS would prefer consumers believe a recall is not really a recall, but a polite requests that retailers “pull” the offending merchandise off the shelves for a teensy-weensie problem with the product.
It seemed to have escaped their attention that practically speaking, whether it is a “recall” or a “pull”, the results are the same. Certainly, the issue that the food was tainted with aflatoxin should have been their chief concern instead of the semantics of the wording used. But, typical of professional media wordsmiths, their job is to obfuscate the issues and redirect the focus away from anything appearing remotely negative.
I guess in the old days it was simple enough to sweep a dirty story under the carpet. In today’s media saturated environment, what once were stories limited in geographic scope now explode in the media. And that mess is just too big for any little ol’ carpet. Enter the Spin Doctor. No, he’s not the Maytag repairman or the local drug dealer, but a high-powered master of manipulation.
As example by the statement released today by IAMS spin doctor,er, spokesperson the well crafted press release:
“There has been no consumer recall and there is not a widespread aflatoxin issue with any of our foods. We have been working this situation with the FDA and we are confident consumers can feed their pets Iams. There were a small number of bags that tested outside of specification limits and we have retrieved those products. Price Chopper has also removed the information posted, as there is no consumer recall.”
Per Iams it was a Product Pull(truthaboutpetfood.com, Susan Thixton)
Guest Blog: It was a Product Pull (efoodalert.com, Phyllis Entis)
IAMS Cat and Dog Food Recalled for Dangerous Contaminate: Aflatoxin (poisonedpets.com)
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