Posts tagged “spinach”

Standards Shifting

Fresh and Clean International Food Safety Standards

When I took this picture (in Bangkok) I marveled at the fact that something as basic as food safety was advertised as a benefit to shoppers. What about taste? Value? Good times? Good friends? An interesting menu? Nope. Fresh. Clean. Safe.

Yet here in the U.S. we’ve got scallion problems at Taco Bell and recent problems with spinach. Am I having a Michael Pollan-induced panic or are we not as far ahead as we kid ourselves into believing?

You talkin’ to me?

“To our valued customers:
In cooperation with the
recent FDA warning we
have pulled all fresh

This is a terrible sign. The grocer in this AP photo has simply attempted to cover their ass for not stocking the produce we might be searching for. There’s no helpful information about the FDA warning – we’re supposed to know about it. There’s an opportunity here to help people and remind them not to each spinach for the duration of this situation.

And what the hell does it mean to “have pulled” spinach? This is not how people communicate, this is how merchandisers talk.

I realize this is a reactive sign and not a lot of time was spent in composing it (although it’s not hand-written, it’s somewhat professional looking, so there was some measure of care), but the jargon and self-referential tone is disappointing.

I experienced something similar in a recent email

Mr. Portigal,

Sorry, you are having problems with your Salter Electronic Scale Model 929. The people of Taylor Precision Products take great pride in producing quality products. Salter Model 929 has a ten years warranty. Please return the scale to Taylor. Taylor does not require a receipt or the original box. Please enclose a brief note with your name, return address, explanation of problem. Kindly put the note inside a box with
the scale, return to the following:


Once your scale is received it will be replaced with a new Salter Model 929. Taylor than will mail the new scale back to the consumer. Turn around time of two to three weeks. I do hope this information proves to
be helpful to you.

How, in the course of a couple of short paragraphs, did “Mr. Portigal” morph into “the consumer”? Suddenly they are talking about me, not to me. What?

Not to grossly oversimply, but could it be that organizations spend too much time thinking about themselves, and not the people that they serve? The colloquial term is “drinking the Kool-Aid” and many companies, small and large, turn that into an asset that attracts and retains employees (“a strong culture”) but also presumably excites customers. But there’s a heavy black line on an org chart somewhere that splits the internal dialogs from the external ones, and the strong culture builds in shorthands and buzzwords that alienate and exclude the people on the outside – the ones that those companies are in business to serve.

The business press (and even worse, the blogosphere) is filled with enthusiastic writing about infectious passionate customer/marketing/blah but things are far far messier than any of those authors would want you to believe.


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