North Texas Daily

Professor addresses Rich Products Corp. food recall

Professor addresses Rich Products Corp. food recall

April 24
21:46 2013

Daniel Bissell / Staff Writer

Management professor Whitney Peake conducts research on contamination scandals in the food processing industry, such as the recent 10 million pound recall of Rich Product Corp. frozen food.

She said that recalls such as this one are one of few that are publicly covered.

“There are so many more [recalls] than people know of,” Peake said. “While people generally only hear about two to five cases a year, they actually happen every single day.”

According to Rich Corp., the company is expanding its voluntary recall to include all products produced at its Waycross, Ga., plant with “best [if consumed] by” dates ranging from Jan. 1, 2013 to Sept. 29, 2014, due to possible contamination with Escherichia coli O121 bacteria.

The company said in March that it ordered a recall of five of its Farm Rich products – Philly Cheese Steaks, Mini Quesadillas, Mini Pizza Slices, Mozzarella Bites, and Mini Bacon Cheeseburgers – after an investigation found a link between E. coli and its frozen foods processed at the company’s Waycross, Ga., plant.

Peake said consumers will not be greatly affected by the scandal.

“We found that people tend to be less concerned when a recall involves a highly-branded company,” Peake said. “Since the products are clearly branded, consumers will have greater ease determining the affected product lines, unlike when more commodity-type products are recalled, such as spinach or cantaloupe.”

President and CEO of Rich Products Corp. Bill Gisel said in an April 2 press release that the company will extend the recall to prevent potential further spread of the bacteria in its products.

“When it became apparent to us that, despite the expertise of the USDA, the FDA, the scientific community and our own experts, identification of a specific cause was not going to be a simple or short process, we decided to act proactively to expand the recall,” Gisel said.

Peake said the Rich Products Corp. brand will likely suffer, though its competitors likely won’t, due to the heightened brand recognition.

“It’s likely that the Rich Products Corp. will suffer legitimacy losses across the board for its products,” she said. “They may see declines in sales for a long time after the scandal breaks, especially since this is a large recall.”

Economics senior Craig Williams, who works in the food industry, said responsibility is integral to the company’s reputation.

“There is plenty of mistrust toward corporations, so a display of responsibility is perhaps the only way to recover from the effect this will have on the company’s image,” Williams said.

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