IN FOCUS: Responding to negative chicken press

Published on: Oct 28, 2013

WHOEVER said that there is no such thing as bad press hadn’t spent much time in the crisis communications industry. The past two weeks have been a challenge for the chicken industry, with coverage of the ongoing salmonella outbreak followed by a report disparaging the content of chicken nuggets.

As reported in Feedstuffs earlier this month, an outbreak of a particularly virulent strain of salmonella was linked to three California chicken processing facilities. Recalls by major retailers including Kroger and Costco gave consumers pause, with Oklahoma State University’s Food Demand Survey finding that salmonella was one of consumers’ top concerns, perhaps owing to widespread media coverage.

On top of that, University of Mississippi researchers recently picked apart one of Americans’ favorite fast-food options – the chicken nugget – and their mostly critical results were widely disseminated.

National Chicken Council vice president of communications Tom Super is the industry’s point man when such issues arise in the media. He told Feedstuffs that, despite the negative press, the industry has a fairly positive message to share with consumers.

The Council, along with its other partners in the Animal Agriculture Alliance, recently released a report detailing the significant progress made by the food animal industry in areas such as animal welfare, food safety and environmental sustainability.

Responding to the chicken nugget story, Super pointed out that the researchers were essentially “working with a sample size of two,” hardly a valid sample from which to draw valid scientific conclusions.

Listen to Super’s comments in this week’s edition of Feedstuffs In Focus, the podcast of big news in agriculture.