FDA’s Jerky Treat Crisis: Reputation Management Lessons

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    Failing to protect your constituents isn’t good for the reputation

    The FDA can’t figure out what exactly is sending hundreds of dogs and cats to the vet, but they know it’s related to the popular jerky treats sold by many big brands. Unfortunately, that information alone isn’t enough to keep them off store shelves, leaving the FDA between a rock and a hard place.

    Exactly how many pets have been affected? NBC News’ JoNel Aleccia reports:

    Nearly 600 pets have died and more than 3,600 have been sickened in an ongoing, mysterious outbreak of illnesses tied to jerky treats made in China, federal animal health officials said Tuesday.

    Unable to solve the situation alone, the FDA is crowdsourcing its crisis management, sending vets around the country this message asking them to submit information about any suspected jerky pet-treat-related illnesses. They’ve also created a website for the public to submit reports and find the latest information on the situation.

    This is good, but, as with any crisis situation, there is only so long that treating the symptoms will fly. The FDA needs to find a way to stop the problem, or its (let’s face it, already shaky) reputation will accrue more serious damage.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also the editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]