The longterm business impacts of an outbreak

Beyond the tragic longterm effects on health for the victims of an outbreak, issues associated with foodborne illness incidents can taint a business for a long time. Jack-in-the-box, Odwalla, Castleberry’s and others may have changed their processes and practices but the stigma from an outbreak can last years. Beyond public perception, internal and external investigations into the causes can continue to impact business for years. And lead to revenue losses, expensive changes and criminal action.images

On national peanut butter and jelly day, the Atlanta Business Chronicle, uh, chronicles Conagra’s responses to a 2007 Salmonella outbreak affecting over 280 individuals associated with the Peter Pan and Great Value brands.

Seven years after a recall of peanut butter made at a Georgia plant, federal investigations are still hanging over the head of ConAgra Foods Inc.

Following the recall, investigators searched the plant. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Georgia and the Consumer Protection Branch of the Department of Justice launched a formal investigation in 2011.

ConAgra (NYSE: CAG) reported today that it spent a total of $25 million in 2012 and 2013 in connection with the investigations.

“We have been and continue to be engaged in ongoing discussions with the U.S. Attorney’s office and the Department of Justice in regard to the investigation,” ConAgra reported today. “We are pursuing a negotiated resolution, which we believe will likely involve a misdemeanor criminal disposition under the Food, Drug & Cosmetics Act.”

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.