business news in context, analysis with attitude

Topps Meat Co., the New Jersey company that has been forced to recall almost 11 tons of processed meat from stores around the country because of concerns about E. coli contamination, went out of business on Friday.

"This is tragic for all concerned," Anthony L. D'Urso, COO at Topps, said in a written statement. "In one week we have gone from the largest U.S. manufacturer of frozen hamburgers to a company that cannot overcome the economic reality of a recall this large."

The only people who will remain at the company will be those who have to help the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) with its investigation into the causes of the contamination. The company stopped producing meat products just over two weeks ago when USDA found that the company – which said it prided itself on its safety measures – had inadequate safety measures.
KC's View:
The lessons here are many, especially because numerous reports suggest that Topps had some warning that the ceiling was about to fall in – after all, it had just settled a lawsuit revolving around tainted meat that as said to have sickened a young girl, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has been critical of its approach to safety.

But the ultimate lesson is that in 2007, speed kills. And as information and accusations move more and more quickly, retailers and manufacturers have less and less time to make things right. Which is why it is important to get things right to begin with.

I go into stores all the time, and many of you still have signs up prohibiting the use of cameras – which seems to ignore the reality that virtually every customer you have comes into the store equipped with a still camera, video camera and tape recorder. They all are embedded in their cell phones, which means that your margin for error is really, really slim.