The developing story of e coli-tainted spinach that has so far caused illness and death in 19 states provides an extreme example of the sea change that new media has caused in communications.
The Center for Disease Control says that the tainted spinach appears to be grown by Natural Selection Foods LLC, the world’s largest producer of organic produce. The company’s home page communication lacks the main component that distinguishes the new age of corporate commnication from pre-Cluetrain corporate-speak – a human voice.
The company needs to immediately set up a blog with constantly updated information and an action log. A top executive needs to express their extreme concern for the health of the people who’ve been sickened, and become a reassuring spokesperson.
The company’s statement says:
“We are aware of reports of illnesses in multiple states nationwide including one death, possibly related to e coli contamination in fresh spinach. We have been working closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) to try to understand the scope and locate the source of any contamination.”
Missing from the statement: a heart, and an apology. What about we’re so sorry that people have become sick and even died. They don’t have to say it’s their fault, they just have to say they’re sorry this is happening.
Natural Selection spinach is distributed through companies including Dole, Natural Selection Foods, Pride of San Juan, Earthbound Farm, Bellissima, Rave Spinach, Emeril, Sysco, O Organic, Fresh Point, River Ranch, Superior, Nature’s Basket, Pro-Mark, Compliments, Trader Joe’s, Ready Pac, Jansal Valley, Cheney Brothers, Coastline, D’Arrigo Brothers, Green Harvest, Mann, Mills Family Farm, Premium Fresh, Snoboy, The Farmer’s Market, Tanimura & Antle, President’s Choice, Cross Valley, Riverside Farms. Products include spinach and any salad with spinach in a blend, both retail and foodservice products. Products that do not contain spinach are not part of this recall.
Among those companies, Earthbound Farm is the largest organic produce grower and shipper in North America, and its packaged salad mixes are available in about 75% of U.S. supermarkets, the company said. Its produce farms comprise about 26,000 acres in California, Arizona and Mexico.
According to the NY TImes, boiling contaminated spinach can kill the bacteria, but washing won’t eliminate it.