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Experts available to comment on Blue Bell recall

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

LAWRENCE — Two professors from the University of Kansas School of Business can provide insight into the recent recall of Blue Bell Creameries products. Earlier this week, Blue Bell recalled all of their ice cream and frozen desserts after 10 cases of listeria were linked to the outbreak. Five cases, including three deaths, have been reported in Kansas.

Noelle Nelson, assistant professor of marketing and consumer behavior, can speak to the recall’s influence on shoppers. Nelson, who studies working memory and negative effect in consumer behavior, said buyers pay more attention to negative information and remember it longer.

“The information about listeria is extremely negative because it affects personal safety, as in survival. And, that is the one thing that people are most concerned about,” Nelson said.

So far, Blue Bell’s response and willingness to pull its products has played well with consumers.

“People are willing to forgive you if you don’t make excuses and if you come forward and say, ‘This is a problem, and we are trying to fix it,'” Nelson said.

Suman Mallik, associate professor of supply chain management, can comment on strategies companies adopt during recalls. When a recall occurs, companies need to admit their mistake, track their products and design a restitution plan, Mallik said. He points to Toyota’s offer of two years of free maintenance in the wake of a series of recalls.

“The most important part is a communications plan,” Mallik said of the recall process. “A communications plan not just for the consumers, but for all the channels that are part of the retail and distribution of the product.”

Mallik also can discuss emerging technology that makes recalling products easier, such as the use of radio-frequency identification tags.

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