What’s for Dinner Triggers Stable of Problems

A controversy has erupted across Continental Europe involving Nestlé.

After the discovery of horse meat and “traces” of horse DNA in two of their beef products, the Swiss-based company launched a voluntary recall to get them off store shelves.

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Nestlé was formed in 1905 and has grown into what is now the largest food company in the world measured by revenues.  Nestlé operates about 450 factories throughout 86 countries.  Although the company claims American food is unaffected by the horse meat contamination, its brand is still at stake globally.  Nestlé is doing the right thing by recalling the meat products, but the question remains, should they have been more vocal about their findings?

Nestlé released one statement on its website explaining there is “no food safety issue, but the mislabeling of products means they fail to meet the very high standards consumers expect.” They also stated they were “enhancing existing comprehensive quality assurance programs” to ensure a higher standard of meat and enhanced traceability.  All are important points, but virtually hidden in a small article on a subpage of Nestlé’s main site.  It is unlikely many consumers will see or know about this issue unless pointed out by a major newspaper or media outlet.  The statement regarding this issue can be found here:

http://www.nestle.com/media/statements/supplier-mislabeled-beef-horse-meat.

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Knowing how important it is to keep their brand name clean, do you think it was smart of Nestlé’s PR team to keep this controversy quiet?  Do you think they should have released an international statement to be more transparent rather than appearing to cover up the issue?

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4 Responses to What’s for Dinner Triggers Stable of Problems

  1. Daniel Rasmussen says:

    I think the best way to deal with these problems is to come right out and be honest with the public. If your reputation is already at stake, why risk it more? The longer they wait to admit their faults, the risk of losing their reputation increases exponentially. I think they are doing the right thing now but we will see if they are able to bounce back from this huge PR crisis.

  2. Josh Skalniak says:

    I think Nestle handled this potential crisis smartly. Staying quiet is perfect for this situation because, ultimately, consumers will not be harmed by the mislabeling. However, if this had been a situation where people were getting sick, then Nestle would have to get their statements out first to avoid being perceived as reckless and unethical.

  3. Nicole Lavella says:

    I think this is largely an ethical issue, and based on Nestle’s response, it seems like they value their profit more than keeping their public informed. I completely agree with Daniel’s point that not immediately being upfront and honest risks their reputation even more. I think they were smart in issuing the recall and statement, but they could’ve done more to create a more personal response.

    I also think it’s interesting that IKEA meatballs have recently been drawn into the horse meat controversy. Though the Nestle crisis is limited in its reach, nearly 150 million IKEA meatballs are consumed around the world. I wonder how/if this will change Nestle’s approach.

  4. Montserrat Camacho De Anda says:

    I just read both posts — the IKEA meatballs one and Nestle’s products. I think Nestle could have done a better job at explaining things and coming right out and be honest to its public. IKEA seems to value their stakeholders a little more, while Nestle seems to really be concerned about the money. I think that Nestle might want to change its reaction toward the issue to something more transparent and hope their reputation has not been really damaged by what they have done already.

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