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Malicious tampering; we know the term, but do any of us really think it could happen to our business? It happens more than you might think and for as many different crazy reasons as there are people on the planet. We have seen a rise in this type of crisis situation over the past few months, and every time this occurs, we are puzzled by the thought process of the culprit. Two recent cases in which TAG was involved are: The first was pills thrown into a dry ready-to-eat product – different pills on different days. This didn’t come with a note, rather because the product made it to retail, it was discovered through consumer complaints. We managed to identify what the pills were; but the whole story has never emerged, perhaps it will always be a mystery. Nothing further happened, but alarm bells sounded that we all need to be aware of the potential of a disgruntled employee seeking revenge for something … loss of hours, loss of pay, a victim of bullying, etc. It could be anything, but we need to be ready. The second incident was the finding of a green vial in product from a foreign supplier, with a note that said the contents of the ‘lot’ had been contaminated with cyanide and more would follow. How can we protect ourselves from that? Both of these are threatening, both dangerous and enough, in some circumstances, to warrant a recall of product; although, in each of these particular cases, that was averted. In addition to potential consumer danger, such malicious tampering can put your brand at risk. Fortunately, neither of these incidents made the mainstream newsfeed, but they easily could have. The media loves drama; loves the unusual, the unforeseen event, the story of intrigue – all of which malicious tampering usually involves. Every company needs to be aware of the potential threat that this poses and incorporate a strategy into your crisis response plan to be ready to handle the unexpected. Because let’s face it, no recall or crisis ever comes at a convenient time. So how can we be ready for this? How can we safeguard against it? The truth is, we have to always be aware, vigilant, ready to react, prepared with a robust recall plan, with assigned roles and responsibilities in place.… What more can we do to protect ourselves? It’s almost like protection from ourselves; from someone within the company: our workforce, our colleagues; from our suppliers; from our distribution chain. Knowing that someone could involve your company in this undercover cloak of mystique and intrigue is what is so alarming. So you need to be ready, have a good plan in case it happens. The odds are that it won’t … but we never know. So, knowing all that, I’ll tell you that at TAG, we are ready to assist in any emergency, any strange scenario, any unusual event that could damage a company’s reputation. Guard your reputation, it’s what is most valuable to your brand. Let us help you develop a reputation that is hard to tarnish … it’s what we do. About The Acheson Group (TAG) Led by Former FDA Associate Commissioner for Foods Dr. David Acheson, TAG is a food safety consulting group that provides guidance and expertise worldwide for companies throughout the food supply chain. With in-depth industry knowledge combined with real-world experience, TAG’s team of food safety experts help companies more effectively mitigate risk, improve operational efficiencies, and ensure regulatory and standards compliance.


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