What your romaine recall response says about your restaurant brand

Your phone buzzes first.

You notice a significant number of diners getting a similar ping.

If you haven’t prepared for the latest romaine recall, then are you really ready for this moment?

Your dine-in customer, a forkful of Caesar salad at his lips, glances down at that push alert warning of the latest romaine lettuce ban. Within minutes you’ll face nervous customers onsite, on the phone, and across your digital platforms. In The Atlantic, writer James Hamblin, says that:

Fear, though, brings attention.

Whether it’s a fear of beef, romaine, or the reputable restaurants that once served the tainted product, a cohesive and speedy response reflects well on your business. Anything less tanks your credibility.

Along with all of the work of removing the recalled romaine, what type of messaging should your restaurant send?

Hit the digital airwaves with the news.

Restaurant romaine lettuce salad on white plate.Have a checklist ready of social and digital platforms to update during a safety recall. Your list might include various social media sites, your website, loyalty programs, and other third-party integrations.

  • Use wording that assures customers that your restaurant takes recalls, food, and your customer’s health seriously.
  • Frame your message with the idea that you’re 100% positive that your food is safe to eat, but you’re sharing the news to keep your loyal patrons safe out there in the big bad world.
  • Be prepared to rewrite online product descriptions to eliminate mentions of the recalled food.
  • Create social media messages using consistent yet platform-specific styles.
  • Have images for each digital channel ready to attach to your messaging.

Create a press-perfect message.

Although transparency on labeling for greens like romaine has increased, it’s inevitable that you’ll face a food recall at some point. Be prepared by having a response ready before the issue happens.

Draft a positive statement that reflects a message of trust. Keep it short, sweet, and customer-focused.

If a romaine recall hits your area, then pull up your statement, tweak it for the current event, and reach out to media for placement. For additional positive exposure during a recall frenzy, rely on a consultant for on-brand messaging and outreach.

Address a romaine scare with staff.

Clueless employees don’t earn you trust. A sign on the door is great, but it won’t make up for a staff member’s blank look when someone asks if there’s romaine in the side salad.

Train employees to give a short and succinct answer. Do this by explaining the issue and action taken in terminology that easily understood and repeatable for all staff.

Word of mouth and your restaurant’s in-house customer experience needs to align with your brand’s digital messaging.

Turn a recall into a positive story about your restaurant brand.

Our customers crave experience. However, when faced with social media storms over lettuce, they long for the days of knowing who or even what to trust. Be the brand that they can rely on to keep them safe—the restaurant that cares about them.

Sure, your fried chicken wings aren’t helping their heart disease, but that’s why you offer good stuff, like lettuce. Right?

Turn a food scare, like the recalls on romaine, into a positive story about your restaurant with a cohesive plan of action. You have minutes—maybe only seconds—to convey your message to staff, on-site customers, and across digital channels. Whether you appoint a team member to complete online updates or use branding and PR services, someone has to do it. And quick.

Management consultant and brand strategist for small teams. Fan of dark tea, thick books, peace, and unity.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments