The consumer is the crucial final link in the food chain. He buys your products and consumes them. Occasionally, he has a complaint about a product. Most cases are not that serious and can be dealt with quickly and smoothly. Sometimes, however, more attention is required.
We have recently seen a number of critical and peculiar cases where that extra attention turned out to be of the utmost importance...
The question is not ‘if’ but ‘when’ your company will be faced with a crisis. Reality shows us that every food company – sooner or later – will face a crisis. At that moment it is crucial to have procedures, a trained Crisis Management Team and communication tools in place. The secret of successful crisis management lies mainly in preparation. How can we help you?
Every food company’s mission is to market high-quality, tasty products. This is generally the case. However, zero risk does not exist. It is therefore always possible that a consumer has a complaint about your product. How do you ensure that the consumer reaches your consumer service? What is the best way to handle such a complaint?
It appears that the measures concerning meetings and telework are here to stay, affecting every crisis management team. There is always somebody in quarantine who has to participate remotely in crisis meetings. How do you avoid the loss of efficiency caused by the digital chaos?
Since the beginning of lockdown, the number of cyber attacks has increased. Unfortunately, teleworking often makes your company an easy victim for cybercriminals. Luckily, you can arm yourself with the right preventive measures.
Before customers go into business with your company, they look you up online. Not only do they look at how you position yourself on your website, but they also take into account what others write about you. News and consumer trends influence your company’s reputation. How should you deal with and respond to this?
A new employee... Besides a good perspective also a learning process: guided tours, the handover of materials, an immersion in the company culture.... He/she has to discover the ins and outs of the company in all areas, including crisis management (cyber security, social media, press, food defense). How do you include this?
The vast majority of the Food Security members export products abroad. Some dispose of their own staff abroad (sales office, warehouse, etc.). Others even have production sites abroad. In times of crisis, it is important to be able to make an appeal to these employees as well.
Do you know what you can find on social media about your company and employees? A sensitive consumer complaint (which might include a foreign body), pictures of your production line, information about certain systems... and access to your management's private pages with details about when they are travelling, where they live etc. This of course makes it very easy for (cyber)criminals to get started. Your employees, your (inactive) company page and all unofficial company pages are a security risk and have a negative impact on your reputation. What can you do about this?
Even though your company strives for a 100% quality, sometimes products are not up to standard. All companies strive for having satisfied consumers. Positive consumer feedback is of course the icing on the cake. However, negative feedback is often much more interesting: a complaint gives your company the opportunity to make up for it and to learn from it for the future. How do you deal with a consumer complaint in the year 2019?
Unfortunately, the cyber criminals of nowadays are much more sophisticated than ever. Their phishing emails are no longer clearly marked by an inheritance subject or by an amount of mistakes. Cyber criminals nowadays often prepare for months. They observe email traffic, wait for the right moment – for example, when someone is ill or on leave – and immediately haul in a big loot. How do you arm your company against them?
In times of crisis, is it possible to talk to the press in a way that your customers’ trust can be maintained? A couple of years ago, some children became ill after having a drink at their campsite. The guilty party? The manufacturer. The media, of course, jumped on the story and focused on an ill child who was in the hospital. How did the company talk to the press, as it most likely had never experienced anything of this nature and size before?
Would you leave your front door open when you go off to work or trust strangers with the keys to your house? "No.” The same point can be made with regard to your company security. On the one hand, you make sure that physical security is in place (badge system, fence, camera surveillance). On the other hand, you invest in human security by training your employees (SCAN method, following the procedures, etc.). These measures create a security culture which is necessary within the framework of Food Defense. Many of our food companies are on the right track, yet sometimes a story emerges....
A big “eye opener” in terms of food fraud in Europe was the horse meat scandal. The European Union then took some decisions in order to tackle this problem more firmly. Nevertheless, they could not avoid the Fipronil eggs and a new meat scandal (in Belgium). Other cases are bound to follow...
September 2018/ It was global news – needles were being found in strawberries all over Australia. As they were getting closer to tracking down the criminal, needles started turning up in bananas and apples as well. Copycats increased the complexity of the situation. The government promised a reward of $100,000 for useful information about the perpetrator and threatened with the maximum sentence of 15 years. Things went from bad to worse: tons of fruit were dumped, New Zealand no longer wanted to import Australian fruit. This case shows how deficient crisis communication can affect an entire sector.
The quality department receives a complaint about a foreign body. After investigating it, the service found that the product in question should not have been on the market. The product had been blocked four months before due to the possible presence of foreign bodies…
Are you of the same opinion? Then at least take the time to forward this learning point to those who you think their job it should be: the IT department or top management. Research among Belgian companies shows that a cyber attack is in the top three of criminal phenomena that companies expect to fall victim to this year.
A new year, a new version of BRC. This version draws attention to culture, awareness and engagement. At Food Security, we have been responding to these factors for many years now by creating a positive crisis management culture within your company.
Everyone falls for a phishing mail once in a while. Criminals are getting increasingly better at social engineering: they use information that can be found on the Internet (website, LinkedIn, Facebook) to convince you with a credible story. Once persuaded, you may click or transfer money. A study by PwC shows that 53% of the Belgian companies dealt with cyber crime last year...
A food company receives returned letters containing product samples which had not been sent by them. The envelopes and the letters imitate the company’s look & feel. The recipients are located all around the world. Could this be fraud? What now? It happened to one of our members.
In the context of the Fipronil crisis, a food company had to take the necessary action. Afterwards, we were told that they had been able to successfully deal with this crisis thanks to the simulation exercise that we had organised at their premises.
i-Force* carried out a pre-employment screening (PES) during the recruitment of an operator for a food company. In the online questionnaire, the candidate had indicated to have no history of employment conflicts. The analysis of his resume revealed that his employment history consisted of short-term contracts alternated with a number of periods during which his occupations were unclear.
A customer returned a product to a food company (a manufacturer of fresh products) because it contains a metal object. This customer luckily noticed it in time and could prevent worse implications. But how did this object end up in a product whose production line includes metal detection? Could this be a matter of sabotage?
What now? It happened to one of our members.
A food company notices that their products are being sold on Facebook, most of them are unlabeled and described as "manufacturing defects". It would concern a limited number of products that had been rejected during production... What now? This happened to one of our members...
Food Security attained the ‘International crisis communications conference’ in Berlin. One workshop demonstrated that Google does not or hardly forgets your crisis, which turns out to be an important eye-opener…
An existing retailer informs you by e-mail that they want to become a customer. Several checks are performed and everything seems fine. The first order is placed and delivered, but no payment follows… What now? This has happened to several of our members.
From snaps, to a Whatsapp message to adding a photo to your instastory… Nowadays, there are so many possibilities to share your life with the world. The future of social media doesn’t look particularly boring, certainly not if no rules are drawn up… Various members of ours have already been confronted with inappropriate use of social media on the workfloor.
The FASFC is on the doorstep to take a few samples. Several weeks later, the analysis results are in: a fluid that’s in contact with the products is non-compliant… What now? It happened to one of our members.
A journalist recently walked into the biggest arms depot in Belgium unhindered. Despite being an unauthorised intruder, no one questioned who he was or what he was doing there. In short, it wasn't only the physical security that left much to be desired, but also the vigilance of the staff.
Christmas is approaching fast. Although this is a period when many people take time off, it shouldn’t be the annual weak link when it comes to following up incidents…
In Europe, Belgium comes bottom of the class: as many as 9% of all Belgians has already been a financial victim of hackers. That’s why the government launched an awareness-raising campaign concerning cyber security in the month of October.
Analysis of the RASFF reports (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed) proves that notifications due to foreign objects have been on the rise since 2014 (an increase of 22% between 2015 and 2016).
Imagine: multiple employees come to warn you that a co-worker has threatened to put ‘something’ in the products. What do you do?
It has already happened to many in the food business.
In May, a large-scale infection of the WannaCry ransomware was detected in a number of large Spanish companies. From here, the ransomware was able to spread to 150 countries and no fewer than 48 healthcare organisations in the UK. That's just a taste of what cybercriminals are capable of and a vision of what the future holds.
How to avoid a commercial difference from being fought out on your brand’s official Facebook page? It happened to one of our members…
In 2015, we already warned you, currently financial fraud is better organised than ever and increasingly hard to trace. Several of our members have had to deal with it…
What do you do if somebody tries to damage your company’s reputation by filing an anonymous complaint with the authorities? It happened to several of our members…
What do you do when a consumer complaint turns into a case of blackmail? It happened to one of our members ...
Imagine receiving a letter from a lab stating that your product has been labelled ‘non-conform’ ...
It's the weekend, just before a bank holiday and the holiday period. One of your employees is caught up in a personal drama ...
Recently, an animal rights organisation invited people on Facebook to protest outside a company that’s active in the poultry sector.
Tuesday, 9 o’clock, the person in charge of quality receives a third complaint on the same issue. Although the cause is still unclear, the problem can’t be ignored.
The consumer eats your products also during the holidays…
We’re all different and that’s a good thing, too. However, sometimes these differences lead to incidents at and beyond the production line...
These companies had an external party (Food Security) test an important aspect of their Food Defense plan: how "aware" are our employees towards undesired "visitors"?
Events at fellow food companies can have an impact on your company.
Or will it be your company name in this newspaper headline soon?
When it comes to managing a crisis (real or simulated), we see clear differences between teams
Food fraud is a growing concern. Recent scandals have increased the need to protect consumers by strengthening the food industry’s ability to detect and combat fraud within organisations and across supply chains.
By now, we all agree that pre-employment screening isn’t a case of unnecessary paranoia and even that in-employment screening isn’t.
No one has failed to notice the latest events or that the measures taken in our country are having quite an impact on a large number of companies.
Food Security has existed for almost 30 years now. In all those years, we’ve seen a lot. Frequently, the same finding catches our attention. The human factor plays a decisive role in incident and crisis management.
A crisis meeting is a necessary evil; any experienced person will second this.
Stress, lack of time and the impact of decisions are, among others, a number of elements that make such a situation complicated.
Frauds aren't hanging about and they're unleashing their creativity on you. In the past, we have issued multiple warnings about the dangers of fraudulent invoices and scams that Belgian companies, including food companies, have become the victim of.
Current affairs have recently shown us again that a flashpoint can come into existence very quickly and can expand rapidly, and especially in the slow season we are in now. (Parliament recess, holidays…). We are referring more specifically to the ‘buzz’ that was going on concerning the ‘Halal’ certification of a pear syrup manufacturer in Liege ("sirop de Liège")
There are advocates and opponents of mystery calls.
Some see them as a monitoring tool, others, like us, see them as a pedagogical tool.
The impending holiday period is synonymous with lower attendance, interim personnel, summer jobs, back-ups et cetera. All these elements are a cocktail that can allow a manageable incident to escalate into a crisis.
Your customer service receives a serious complaint via e-mail. The complaint is about a foreign object that nearly choked the person involved. However, this product is not manufactured by your company...
The employees of one of our members (in Belgium) were recently confronted with six refugees who arrived on their company’s site as stowaways in a sealed refrigerated trailer.
Consumers are increasingly using social media to share good but also unpleasant experiences with products or services with the people around them.
(Very) recent cases remind us that it is important to be vigilant in commercial contacts to avoid falling victim to well-organized fraud practices.
Your customer service receives a complaint via e-mail. The complaint is related to a foreign object in your product. After briefly scanning the complaint, customer service classifies it as a standard complaint...
One of our members recently received a visit from the Labour Inspection. In itself nothing to worry about, but…
An urgent order of a standard product by a prospect, a new client, a new contact and there is no negotiation about the price. You may think it’s the ‘deal’ of the year. Think twice...
We have frequently discussed the importance of a well-developed crisis manual, but in addition to this ‘manual for a crisis’ there are other tools that should be examined and further developed upfront.
Save time and work during the crisis!
During incidents like a fire, an accident, et cetera intervention plans are activated and, if necessary, the crisis team as well. The crisis team then has to manage the secondary consequences of the situation (communication with the press, resuming activities, contact with clients…) and ensure that urgent actions in the intervention plan are carried out (fire, victims).
As you know, this winter Elia may switch to the ‘power down plan’ to deal with possible shortages in electricity in a controlled way.
Lines are regularly shut down and a number of machines are subjected to ‘major maintenance’. Components are checked, others are replaced, everything is turned inside out by your own staff or external subcontractors.
The world cup is over and the Tour will not last forever either. Unless government negotiations provide us with daily news, we are about to enter ‘the off-season’, a period when we do not expect a lot of news.
The summer holidays are about to begin and the majority of you have already planned your holidays and appointed a back-up for this period. Perhaps you have even already prepared your ‘out of office’ notice.
By now, the need for a crisis manual is an established fact for companies who are a part of Food Security. However...
A consumer contacts you to report that he has found a foreign object in one of your products. Customer service sends a thank you letter and get a reply from the consumer… but he is very dissatisfied!
Various members of Food Security have reported issues surrounding certification audits for Food Defense...
A consumer discovers an anomaly in a product. Alarmed he picks up the phone and calls the company. The receptionist immediately wants to put the consumer through but something goes wrong during the process and the connection is cut off...