The Food & Drug Administration has confirmed that Iowa eggs associated with the recent massive recall will be pasteurized and processed for use in other products, including pet food. The media is already hyping it up with headlines like "Iowa firms will pasteurize possibly tainted eggs for use in cookies, pet food".
You can bet that pet parents are going to be hyped too - the bloggers are screaming foul as we speak. Patricia Y. Hester, a professor of animal sciences at Purdue University, said "There's a possibility that consumers could overreact and consider them not safe when they really are. There could be a public perception problem. There usually is.
"Are you ready for their questions? This needs to be tackled quickly, thoroughly, and honestly, and it could actually work in your favor if it's done properly. I'll help you get started.The first order of the day - research. Find out everything you can about processed eggs and the pasteurization process. Start collecting studies - you'll need to refer pet parents to reputable, independent sources of information.
There are three possible scenarios here for those who use processed eggs in their products:
Scenario one: Your egg product supplier uses eggs from the farms in question.
Scenario two: You use egg products, but your egg product supplier doesn't source them from the farms in question.
Scenario three: You have no idea where your egg products come from.The easiest and safest resolution to scenario one would be to stop using egg products that originated with these Iowa farms - NOW.
Cut your losses and don't use your inventory. Quite often the effort involved in defending yourself is more costly and damaging than change (as many concluded when pet parents were concerned about ethoxyquin), even when you're right. Don't worry, the gains from the increased consumer trust will balance any losses, because you're immediately going to use it in your marketing. If you insist on continuing to use these eggs, put together a brilliant information package about why you are 100% certain that the pasteurization process makes them safe.
Of course, pet food is also reprocessed at high temperatures, but that could beget other concerns so you may want to be careful with that point. Don't make the mistake of thinking that scenario two will exempt you from suspicion - be ready to name the origins of your egg products, including the name of your supplier and what procedures they implement to ensure safety.
Scenario three is probably the worst scenario to be in. "I don't know" is going to drown you on so many levels that you may never surface. You'll need to contact your manufacturer and/or supplier to obtain this information, then proceed accordingly.In all scenarios, issue a statement on your website, link to it via social media, direct people to the information in your automatic phone recordings, arm your frontline customer support staff, etc. - get the word out there before you have egg on your face.
You may want to use the FDA page as a guideline when developing your own egg info. package.It doesn't matter if these eggs are pasteurized and safe, the farms have lost consumer trust and that is going to reflect upon you and your product if you don't act. Get cracking!
Sources:US Food & Drug Administration (FDA)MSNBC, 'Eggs from suspect farms will be processed, sold'. Accessed 8/25/2010