Waitrose showcased their pro-active approach to crisis communications in the midst of the horse meat contamination scandal that is rippling through Europe. On Wednesday 13th February, they send the following email to their customers:
Following my letter to you last month, meat continues to be in the news and so I thought you might appreciate an update on what we have been doing. We have now done tests on 40 of our meat products. No horse meat was found in any of these tests. We did, however, discover that in just two batches of our essential Waitrose frozen British beef meatballs (480g), some of the meatballs may contain some pork. In fact, one of the tests carried out showed that the meat in the meatballs was, as it should be, 100% beef. But because another test indicated there may be some pork, I felt it important for you to be aware.
Although the meatballs are safe to eat, pork is not listed as an ingredient and should not be part of the recipe. The affected date codes are Best Before End June 2013 and Best Before End August 2013. No other date codes or products are affected.
If you have any of these products with the affected date codes in your freezer, and would like to return them to us, we will be happy to give you a refund and suitable replacement.
At Waitrose, the welfare of animals and quality of our fresh and frozen meat has always been of the highest priority. That is why we have just announced that in partnership with our dedicated beef supplier we will create a new facility; which in addition to supplying all of our fresh beef will also now produce a range of frozen Waitrose beef products. All the beef processed at this site will continue to be sourced from our known and trusted group of British farmers.
As farmers ourselves, we strongly believe in championing British produce. We only stock fresh and frozen beef, pork and chicken from British farmers – and that includes the meat in our ready meals. The only exception is lamb, which is a seasonal meat and requires some New Zealand lamb to make up for our requirements outside the UK season. To ensure you have the very best tasting lamb all year round, we have established a small group of New Zealand farmers who work closely together to complement our English and Welsh lamb producers.
Like me, I’m sure nothing is more important to you than the safety, quality and taste of the food you give your family and that is why I wanted to write to you directly in this way.
Thank you for your time and if you do have any more questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 188884.
Managing Director, Waitrose Ltd
This is a great example of an organisation pro-actively reaching out to customers, and thereby taking control of the crisis. Findus PR: take note!