The Cycle

Surveys show recall awareness is high, but brand confusion persists

Consumers are well aware of the salmonella outbreak, but many are confused about what products have been recalled, says two surveys from Harvard University and Burson-Marsteller.

The Burson survey, which comes on the heels of its work with Peanut Corporation of America, the peanut butter manufacturer at the center of the salmonella investigation, notes that 93% of US consumers have heard about the recalls.

Harvard’s survey showed that 1 in 4 people think that national peanut butter brands are involved in the recall but only half are worried about the other foods - snacks bars, baked goods, ice cream - that have been recalled.

“There is a difference in consumer perception,” says Bill Zucker, MD and Midwest market leader for Burson-Marsteller. The Burson survey also showed that companies with a strong brand name will fare better in recall situations.

For communicators, the question should be: “Am I ready to communicate in that situation?” says Zucker.

The firm has announced, along with the food safety survey, that it has a one-day onsite checkup plan for companies that want to evaluate their crisis communications plans, in the case of a potential recall. It is providing proactive outreach to food trades and wire services about the plan.

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