recall communication plan

How to create a food recall communication plan

    A food recall communication plan helps you to communicate effectively and efficiently during a food recall. If your company just has a list of contact details for customers and regulatory authorities, that won’t cut it. Read on to find out what you should include in your food recall communication plan and useful implementation tips to ensure success.

    Identifying stakeholders

    Before you start creating your food recall communication plan you first need to understand and identify who your key stakeholders are.

    Stakeholders can be internal or external to your food business. Stakeholders can be any person, business or authority that is impacted by your food recall.  Examples of stakeholders can include customers, consumers, employees, suppliers, retailers, certification bodies, regulatory authorities, media, shareholders, insurance companies or financial lending institutions.

    Crafting key messages

    All communications that your business releases during a food recall should provide clear, concise and easy to understand information to any person that may be affected. The recall information that you provide may be different based on the requirements and expectations of the intended stakeholder.

    The purpose of your key message should be to address the key risks and concerns of stakeholders and what the company is doing to address those concerns. It is also important to communicate what actions have been taken to ensure the issue that triggered to food recall does not happen again.

    Classifying communication methods

    How are you going to communicate with your stakeholders? Will it be via telephone, fax, email or social media? Again, different stakeholders may have a different communication method. Take the time to pre-plan and document communication methods for each stakeholder.

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    Clarifying responsibilities

    Someone must take responsibility, to be in charge. Depending on how big your food business is, you may have several people who are responsible for different departments. For example, customer service, procurement, compliance management or finance/accounting. Allocate a position and person who will be responsible for communicating with each of the key stakeholders.

    Media and Advisory Statements

    Pre-written media and advisory templates are a great preparation tool. The purpose of these statements is to explain what has happened, what impact it might have on key stakeholders and what people should do to reduce the risk.  It is an opportunity to show stakeholders that you are acting quickly and responsibly. Having pre-developed templates will not only save you time during a recall but also provide consistency in your key messaging.

    Media Spokesperson

    Your food recall communication plan needs to identify a media spokesperson. The role of the media spokesperson is to communicate the key messages as agreed by the organisation and answer questions truthfully and honestly if the answers are known. It is important that this representative has appropriate media training and can handle the pressure of interviews and media scrutiny. If you have a subscription, I recommend their Public Relations Foundations: Media Training course.

    Regulatory Compliance

    Depending on where you are located and where your customer is based, there may be additional communication requirements for regulators. These can include recall notifications, reporting time-frames and the use of mandatory media advertising templates. Your recall communication plan should clearly document regulatory contacts and procedures to be followed.

    Do you have a food recall communication plan?

    How does your food business rate? Are you prepared? Can you improve your food recall plan by including a more comprehensive communication plan? Share your thoughts and experience with the HACCP Mentor community by leaving a comment below.


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