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Food recalls, systemic causal factors and managerial implications: The case of Premiere Quality Foods

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Purpose ‐ The objectives of this paper are threefold. First, the paper seeks to present principles of crisis management, and crisis preparation and recovery. Second, it aims to narrate the 2008 events to give context for this case study. Third, it seeks to present a conceptual framework for food industry crisis management in the context of food recalls. Finally, it sets out to present conclusions concerning the food recall, managerial changes, limitations, and future research directions. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper chose an exploratory case-study design to guide the study, based on Yin's argument that case studies are the preferred strategy when "how" or "why" questions are being posed, and when the focus is on a modern phenomenon within a real-life context. Such a design is particularly appropriate for understanding the details and complexity of a phenomenon. A survey study was focused on formal interviews onsite and at the Toronto plant where the recall occurred. Findings ‐ Differences in institutional and relational rules and subsequent management actions during the food recall are linked to the four axes represented in this study. Based on the findings, values played a key role in crisis management at Premiere Quality Foods during the recall. Research limitations/implications ‐ The incident reported in this paper was not compared with any other recalls. The survey also had a limited number of respondents. Several areas of crisis management in the context of a food recall are opened to researchers who have developed a particular interest in the subject. Scholars could explore the conditions that enable or inhibit an organization in effectively detecting and interpreting early crisis warning signals that often lead to a food recall. Originality/value ‐ The mechanics of crisis management and food recalls are a dangerously under-developed field. This paper proposes a way of identifying relevant principles for crisis management and discusses a communication problem that is prevalent in food recalls. The paper considers both internal and external causal factors of crisis management related to food recalls. Today's concepts of crisis and food recalls are no longer mainly externally oriented; they are systemic in nature.
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Keywords: Canada; Food industry; Food safety; Product recall; Safety-critical systems

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 17 May 2011

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