Safety, Common Sense, Product Recalls, and Poor Lennox

Posted on July 10, 2012 | in New Ideas, Personal, Toyota Way | by

Through sharing of ideas and content in the Lean Blitz blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter, I do my best to follow some guiding principles and philosophies – present facts and ideas as opposed to opinions, steer clear of politics, remain neutral with respect to sports organizations, educate and relate, be open and honest, safety and common sense outweighs everything else, and focus on the greater good of humanity. Sometimes my writing can come across as spiteful or agenda-based (based on some of the feedback I receive) but, again, I do what I can to minimize my opinions and try to present facts and constructive criticism/ideas.

I also concede that I do have an agenda, albeit a short one, that is focused on the greater good. Sometimes that agenda overflows into the blog. One item on that agenda is domestic manufacturing and production. Another one is the ethical treatment of animals. I am in possession of a rescued French bulldog named Rooster Cogburn. Today’s post is a dual submission – both relating to dogs.

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Rooster has been consuming various flavors of Taste of the Wild dog food. When he runs low I purchase another bag and fill a large resealable tub with the new food and dispose of the bag.

Recently I bought a bag of the High Prairie flavor (bison AND venison!) and followed my normal routine. However, after emptying the bag I inspected the insides and found…

…dead ants. This was highly unusual – I had inspected bags before but never found this. Because I was unaware of the standard production process (Are ants normally part of the production process? Could they have been killed with ant poison at the factory?) I disposed of the food and sent an email (with pictures of bag, ants, and lot number) to the company to inquire about this and bought another bag at the store, which didn’t have an ant problem.

While perusing their site after sending the email I followed up to their Facebook page – Rooster likes their food so I figured his Facebook page could also supply a *like* to theirs – and came across a startling discovery. Not only had Taste of the Wild been part of a product recall for salmonella but this bag was part of that recall – I checked the lot numbers. I potentially could have unknowingly subjected Rooster to salmonella and this ant problem could be related to it.

But how did I find out about the recall? Only by going to their Facebook page! My local retailer (Tractor Supply Company) didn’t post any details about the recall, and continued to stock Taste of the Wild with no signage alerting consumers to the salmonella risk.

If I didn’t have Facebook, how would I have known about this until after Rooster got sick? Was this even shared on the news? How would Taste of the Wild or Diamond Pet Foods (the actual manufacturing plant owner) gotten an alert out to purchasers and consumers?

There’s a big outcry over pink slime consumed by humans, but this is an example of how animals – many of whom are considered family members – and their food safety is often overlooked. I’m not convinced Taste of the Wild and Diamond Pet Foods went far enough to alert the public. They also claim to have isolated the salmonella outbreak (they say it affected four bags of food over the course of producing over six million bags in a multiple-month period). I won’t get into the analysis of their containment activities because I don’t have that information.

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Lennox is a seven-year-old American bulldog and Labrador mix that resides in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He is currently incarcerated in Belfast and the fight of his life is nearing its conclusion.

The short version of his story: the Belfast City Council passed a law prohibiting dangerous breeds of dogs (there’s a list). Two years ago Lennox was captured by the City Council Dog Wardens for resembling a dangerous breed despite DNA evidence confirming otherwise. Not only is Lennox not one of those breeds but he has also never bitten another person or acted in a dangerous manner. His family has only recently exhausted all legal options to get their beloved dog back and he is due to be put down sometime today.

Photo from Facebook, Text Not My Own

Many people have provided support through contacting Belfast city leaders, enlisting celebrity assistance to speak out on his release, suggesting other alternatives such as rehoming in the United States, creating a Facebook page and collecting signatures on a petition, and on and on.

In the last week, celebrity dog trainer Victoria Stilwell, presenter of It’s Me or the Dog has stepped into the debate, offering to effectively adopt the dog in the United States, and even Peter Robinson, first minister of Northern Ireland, has put his weight behind the campaign: “Spoke to Lord Mayor about Lennox. Suggested BCC (Belfast City Council) should seriously look at re-homing option,” he tweeted last night. “Why exercise the order if there’s an alternative?”

Yet the Belfast City Council remains steadfast in their intent to do away with this dog despite overwhelming support and evidence to save an innocent life.

This is an example of adherence to a law or rule is being allowed to overtake common sense and the greater good. According to The Toyota Way, the Toyota Production System was originally called “respect for humanity” and Toyota would do whatever was necessary to verify that common sense and humanity would not be superceded.

Yes, the safety of humanity is of greatest importance. However, by placing such a rule in effect, the Belfast City Council has created a “gray area” of judgment. In such times of ambiguity, it is almost always best to step back and apply the top priorities of common sense and humanity.

At the risk of letting personal feelings overrule my objectivity, why is the Belfast City Council refusing to do the right thing for humanity and this one life?

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5 Responses to “Safety, Common Sense, Product Recalls, and Poor Lennox”

  1. Mark Graban says:

    I’ve always thought that the TV news was a very inefficient and likely ineffective way to spread the word about recalls. What are the odds that individuals who need to know are watching?

    It seems like we should put more onus on the retailers. Isn’t it easier (and reasonable) to expect that Tractor Supply wouldn’t be selling something that’s currently recalled???? I hope that would be the standard at a human grocery store.

    • Chad Walters says:

      That’s why I am somewhat disappointed that I haven’t seen signage and alerts for the recall or even a discontinuation of the product until the situation is cleared up.

      There are a lot of entities that have skin in this game – the consumers, the manufacturers, the retailers – so don’t you think there’d be a standard process for informing the public? It’s not like there are special interest groups trying to save face or falsely influence public opinion (see pink slime snafus) as it appears TotW and Diamond are trying to fix the issue instead of pointing the finger.

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