Opinion: Menu Foods’ Latest PR is Offensive

Menu Foods Income FundThis is our two cents. We would love to hear from you about your thoughts in our comments. We just read the latest press release from Menu Foods which looks entirely designed to recover their fallen stock price. The entire press release is after the jump.

Here’s what I find so offensive:

  1. The press release trumps Menu Food’s “Enhanced Website and Call Center”. We have been documenting the changes to www.menufoods.com and other than the addition of a handful of new brands under recall, there has been very little additional information posted on the site. In fact, the biggest and most noticeable change has been the posting of the press release touting their enhanced site. In our opinion, there has been no enhancements to the site regarding structure or functionality that could be reasonably construed to help the site become more user-friendly. In fact, Menu Foods did not even post the last updated datestamp on their recalled brands list. Even after repeated updates, the date on the recall brand lists are still marked March 16th — which is a day before the recall lists actually went live. Clicking on 2 of the best known brands (Eukanuba or Iams) lists only a link to the respective brand’s homepage — not even the specific recall page.
  2. Their claim of an enhanced call center is difficult to be independently verified and the release provides zero facts, figures, or even hints at how the call center has been “enhanced”.
  3. Lastly, is this news important enough to be the very first corporate announcement since the recall? It contains nothing more than a pat on their backs. The most significant impact this press release can have is on the stock price of Menu Foods. We would love a response from Menu Foods on this site to show us that there is a substantive benefit for the affected customers to this release. In fact, a Menu Foods spokesperson told the New York Times that the company will compensate parents of pets that died. There has been no clarification since that article, nor have they specified any procedures to follow.

Full press release after the jump.

March 19, 2007

Enhanced Website and Call Center for Precautionary Recall of Dog and Cat Food by Menu Foods Income Fund

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(CCNMatthews - March 19, 2007) -

Attention Business/Financial Editors: NOT FOR RELEASE OVER US NEWSWIRE SERVICES

In order to better respond to the needs of its customers, Menu Foods Income Fund (the “Fund”) (TSX:MEW.UN) has enhanced the accuracy, comprehensiveness and user-friendliness of its website focused on its recent recall of dog and cat food. The Fund is encouraging consumers to check back with the website regularly, to get the most up-to-date information available. Furthermore, the Fund has enhanced its call center capabilities to better respond to consumers.

The Fund announced on March 16 the precautionary recall of a portion of the dog and cat food it manufactured between December 3, 2006 and March 6, 2007. The recall is limited to “cuts and gravy” style pet food in cans and pouches manufactured at two of the Fund’s United States facilities. These products are both manufactured and sold under private-label and are contract-manufactured for some national brands.

Consumers can find the latest information at www.menufoods.com/recall. The website contains detailed information on the products subject to recall, together with updated dates of production and links to related recalls.

5 Responses to “Opinion: Menu Foods’ Latest PR is Offensive”

  1. Al Rocca says:

    My dog has been affected by the tainted food and has multiple medical problems. I have tried to call and email menu foods with no luck. Their web site is useless.

  2. Nikki Weidner says:

    Al, please go to www.howl911.com for help in reporting your dog’s illness. There you will find a link to Pet Connection’s online database, specifically created to centralize the reports of pets affected by the recalled food. You also need to call the FDA’s district complaint phone number to report this to the FDA. Document, document, document! Do not rely on Menu Foods to faithfully (or honestly) track the actual number of pets affected by the recalled food — it is not in their best interest to do so.

    Itchmo Admin: We totally agree with Nikki. Please report your pet’s illness to a third-party (FDA) and keep all records of the food that’s been consumed, including a journal. We can’t imagine how difficult this may be, but you could play a hand in preventing this from ever happening again.

  3. Other organized responses « vetcetera says:

    […] thoughtful analysis at this Seattle site, including analysis of Menu’s response to the crisis, information about Iams’ ten-year contract with Menu, […]

  4. Becky says:

    I call menu foods today to ask if they were going to pay my vet bill and was told that someone would contact me. I was also told that I could dispose of any remaining food packets, because they would not be needed. Yeah right, so helpful.

  5. Robert F Davis says:

    They removed all financial documents….they certainly enhanced it all right!

    Google keeps everything in memory though! Just finished blogging the following from the 2005 Annual Report….

    From the Menu Foods 2005 Annual Report - It sounds like Menu tried to sell ‘Mad Cow’ tainted food outside normal channels….or was this normal inventory that could not be sold due to the ‘Mad Cow’ Scare?
    “4. Inventory Write-down. At December 31, 2005 Menu still had inventory on hand that related to pre-May 20, 2003 (the date when a single case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy was discovered in Alberta). Since this inventory was not saleable in the United States, it proved to be a challenge to sell in the normal channels available to Menu. Throughout 2005, as efforts to sell this inventory were underway, Menu made provisions amounting to $0.9 million.”

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