Incredibly, the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak remains unsolved. First reported onset of illness date was April 10, yet the traceback is still not complete.

Personal injury and economic damage claims await for the FDA and CDC to determine causation. Produce industry, particularly in Mexico, stands to suffer long lasting injury. 

Whether or not your business stands to be impacted (or has been impacted) by the current outbreak, now is a great time to review and rehearse your crisis management plan. I recommend that your team include the following (whether in-house personnel or outside consultants):

  • Scientific – Epidemiology, Microbiology, Infectious Disease – Quantifies risks, assists public health officials and supports litigation;
  • Accounting – Estimates costs of response options and manages system for customer reimbursement;
  • Public Relations – Coordinates all internal and external communications and develops a plan to limit impact to the brand;
  • Quality Assurance – Assists in conducting traceback;
  • Sales and Marketing – Notifies suppliers and buyers, monitors recall effectiveness and coordinates product returns;
  • Legal – Assists with fact investigations, assists coordination with regulatory officials, addresses liability issues, deals with issues of insurance coverage and prepares for litigation;
  • COORDINATOR/TEAM LEADER – selecting a member of the team that can bridge a diversity of disciplines and demonstrate leadership is critical.

Again, most crisis management experts recommend frequent dress rehearsal. Simulating a crisis is the best way to train your team and the only way to determine its strengths and weaknesses. Effective crisis management can mean the difference of millions of dollars (lost sales, destroyed product and personal injuries) and consumer confidence (i.e. the future of your company).