What is more important – your reputation or the concerns of the public?

The “pink slime” debacle was one that is still remembered today and may still affect the way consumers think about the beef industry.  In case you are wondering what “pink slime” is…it is the something safe added to beef to help preserve it.  Although there is no scientific evidence that this slime is unsafe to the public – after images surfaced of what this product looked like – there was a public outcry and uproar.

Pink Slime - picture fromhttps://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e3/Ground_beef_USDA.jpg
Pink Slime – picture from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e3/Ground_beef_USDA.jpg

This brings me to the following question: how important is it to defend ones views while respecting concerns of the public?

In my opinion, a company has a duty to ease consumer concerns while also protecting their own views.  In the situation with “pink slime”, the beef industry put out full page advertisements about how this slime would have essentially saved a child’s life had the child not eaten non-treated meat.  This is a way to protect their own views while also attempting to ease consumer concerns.  The bottom line with this situation is that the beef industry was not doing anything wrong.

A company has the right to defend their views as long as they are not breaking the law.  I think once a company has taken a stance on a situation they must stand by their decision.  If they were to essentially ‘flip-flop’ about their views this may increase public concerns because the public will not know what the correct information is.  In order to gain the public’s trust (aka the stakeholders) once again, a company should keep repeating key messages to enforce their stance on the situation.

Overall, the “pink slime” incident was one that many will not forget.  It was blown extremely out of proportion by people who were not experts in the field – such as by the celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver.  Oliver had essentially said people were feeding themselves poison by eating the treated meat, which again had no scientific proof.  Had the media and influencers not made things look so dramatic the incident may not have exploded among the public like it did.