Tuesday, June 07, 2011
The German health authority is in need of a remedial lesson in crisis communications. The first rule of a crisis is to get the facts straight. They haven't been doing that. The authority is now on its third candidate for the lethal e coli outbreak, and it is not clear that bean sprouts, the latest culprit, are the cause. As the owner of the bean sprout farm said, it is unlikely since there is no organic material used in growing them, and thus far, 23 of 40 samples taken from the farm have proven negative. Perhaps it is time for the authority to stop talking until it has the facts. This is one case in which silence is golden. Certainly the authority should be telling the public what it is doing to find the bacteria, but it should not be assigning causes until it has proof. The authority already has caused tens of millions of losses to farmers whose crops were unfairly accused of the outbreak, and it has needlessly panicked the public. There was no good reason for either outcome.