Crisis Communication: Aldi’s Misfortune with Flour

Didn’t your parents ever tell you not to eat raw cookie batter? Well, apparently people are still doing it…and they are currently facing the consequences.

Last week, the grocery store chain Aldi recalled 5-pound bags of All-Purpose Flour because they contained traces of E. coli.

Right around the corner from Memorial Day Weekend, when many people are making baked goods for their family barbecues. Perfect timing, right?

Who knew that flour could have E. coli…I thought when my parents told me not to lick the spatula with raw cookie batter on it, it was because of the raw eggs…but apparently you have to watch out for the flour too.

Now this is a pretty bad look for Aldi. So, how have they been communicating with their publics about this crisis?

Hint: Not very well.

On May 24, the company came out with a statement saying that if anyone bought the recalled flour from their stores, that they should either throw it away or bring it in to one of their stores to return it.

Image courtesy of the FDA website.

As you can see in their statement, they mentioned the states that may have had the contaminated flour, and informed people that they have since removed the flour from all stores.

Now at the very end of their statement they have a brief sentence that says they regret any inconvenience that the recalled flour had caused. That is kind of their way of “apologizing” to the public.

People who bought the flour were not only inconvenienced, but three people were actually hospitalized from eating something that had the flour in it that was purchased from Aldi’s.

After reading their statement that they had put out to the public, I went ahead and checked their Twitter. I was surprised to not find much at all. Ironically, the last time they had tweeted was May 24th, which was the day before the recall was announced.

Image courtesy of Aldi’s Twitter.

I also went ahead and checked their Facebook to see if they had posted their public announcement on there. Again, I was surprised to find nothing…up until May 24th, the day before the recall.

Image courtesy of Aldi’s Facebook.

Facebook and Twitter seem to be the main platforms that this company uses, which is why it seemed odd to me that they did not mention anything about the recall on either of these social media platforms.

Since it has been a few days since this recall has happened, lets talk about some of the ways Aldi could have done a better job of letting their publics know about this crisis.

  1. Put the apology towards the beginning of the announcement.

I liked how in the first parts of the announcement they stated the facts about the recall, but they didn’t really say they were “sorry” until the very end. They could have started the announcement with an apology and it would have made them seem more sincere.

2. Be transparent.

The fact that Aldi has been silent since the day before the recall makes it seem like they are trying to hide something. Transparency builds trust, which is what Aldi wants from their publics.

3. Let people know what Aldi is doing to try and fix the situation.

If Aldi had posted their statement on their website, people would be able to know what was going on and hear it straight from them. They could have also posted updates on what they are doing to try and control the situation. They touched on it a bit when they said they had taken the flour off all of the shelves from their stores, but it would have been nice to know more.

In a few days, everyone will probably forget about this crisis with Aldi. However, future customers may be hesitant to purchase their flour from Aldi.

This situation is called a crisis for a reason, because it happens suddenly and the company is supposed to respond in a timely manner. Aldi could have done a better job at communicating about this crisis, and I hope for future situations they have learned a thing or two from this one.


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