Blog: Katy AskewGenius Foods faces consumer backlash after recall

Katy Askew | 12 June 2015

UK gluten-free food maker Genius Foods has been in the spotlight this week, after issuing a recall of products because they were contaminated with gluten. Consumers have reacted angrily and one is left wondering just how much damage the recall has done to the trust in the brand.

The company speedily identified the source of the contamination - a dry ingredient - and has removed all affected lines.

While Genius should be praised for the transparent approach it took to the matter - and the speed at which it tackled the issue - consumers have taken to the company's Facebook page to express their disappointment.

While a growing number of consumers buy gluten-free products as a lifestyle choice, the sector's core appeal is to those who suffer from coeliac disease. Those with the condition need to be able to trust the products they are purchasing are free from gluten. For that reason they pay a considerable price premium for gluten-free products and are loyal to their chosen brand.

Today, Genius published online a letter from company founder Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, in which she expressed her "sincerest apologies" at the incident.

"As a Mum of sons, one of whom has a severe dairy allergy and the other who is gluten intolerant, I identify with the distress we may have caused to those of you who are parents and your children and indeed, everyone else who has been affected," Bruce-Gardyne wrote. "Clearly, we have broken the trust that you have placed in us and we want to do everything we can to fix this.

"My first question is what happened? Our continuous testing procedures highlighted trace elements of gluten in some products. We were quickly able to identify that the source was an ingredient which contained small amounts of gluten. Clearly, this ingredient should not have been used or ever made its way into our bakery. We immediately removed it from the bakery, ceased production and carried out a thorough clean down.

"My second question is how can we ensure that this doesn’t happen again? We are currently reviewing all of our internal practices and the Genius team are committed to ensuring that this never happens again."

This afternoon, the reaction on Facebook to the letter was mixed, with some thanking Bruce-Gardyne for writing the letter but others saying the incident had shaken their trust in the business and the brand.

Will Genius be able to retain and rebuild this trust in the wake of the recall? It will take time.

Sectors: Free-from

Companies: Genius Foods

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