Last Updated 19 May 2021

Odwalla’s Responsibility Towards E. Coli Outbreak

Category Responsibility
Essay type Research
Words 1081 (4 pages)
Views 360

The success of an organization depends on the reputation it creates in the market which helps it to strive in the stiff market competition. The reputation of a company or an organization depends entirely on its public relation strategy, corporate social responsibilities, business management strategies and adherence to business ethics. For instance Odwalla Inc. fresh fruit and vegetable based beverages producer managed to create a negative impact to the reputation of its company which it had worked hard to persevere in the past decade in a p of one month, after it was discovered that a batch of the products it supplied was contaminated by E. Coli 0157:H7 bacteria. From the conducted inspections that followed after the outbreak which led to the death of one child and hospitalization of about 66 people it is quite clear that Odwalla Inc. was entirely responsible (Whitmore & Bachorik, 1996).

The E. coli contamination can be attributed to the corporate social irresponsibility stimulated by the management strategies that the company has implemented. In the process the company failed to regulate its operations as required in order to monitor and ensure that stipulated business ethics, international norms and the country’s laws are adhered to. Corporate social responsibility demands involvement of the employees, customers and the community at large in decision making through contribution of ideas, comments or grievances.

Therefore, a business enterprise is supposed to consider the importance of its stakeholders by placing it among its priorities to enable employee engagement and increased profit margins (Sen et al. , 2006). Odwalla Inc. failed to listen and act promptly towards complaints forwarded by their customers. The company had received a plethora of letters informing them that consumption of their products had made them ill before the outbreak of E. coli bacteria in the apple juice product. About sixty people had become ill from consuming Odwalla juice products that were contaminated with salmonella.

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The army had also previously rejected the offer of Odwalla to be supplying them with juice products after their conducted safety research revealed presence of bacteria in the products. Never the less this act did not deter the operation of Odwalla as the company did not take a step of investigating the claims aired by the army (Whitmore & Bachorik, 1996). Moreover, the advice given by the head of the company’s safety team of modifying the production procedure to increase its safety was ignored and refuted.

Dave Stevenson had suggested the utilization of chlorine rinse to act as a precautionary act that would destroy bacteria because the company did not pasteurize its products in believe that pasteurization reduces the flavor of the juice and kills about 30% of required nutrients and enzymes. This is because in spite of the company using millions to upgrade the safety of its plants a relatively small percentage of bacteria were still evident for example Listeria monocytogenes in the production lines.

Instead the senior executives preferred to use acid wash (phosphoric acid) claiming that chlorine had a strong taste that would be left in the products. Furthermore, the warning given by Odwalla chemical suppliers which discouraged the company from depending on the acid wash as a sanitization option because it only killed about 8% of E. coli fell on deaf ears. The suppliers had also advised the company to use the acid wash together with chlorine so as to increase the efficiency of its sanitization process and reduce the after taste that would be left by the use of chlorine alone.

Also the senior executives ignored the warning given by the company’s safety team of not utilizing the lot of apples that had been delivered because they were rotten and one had been infested by worms, an ignorance that later severely cost the company (Whitmore & Bachorik, 1996). The outbreak of E. coli bacteria can also be attributed to the poor business management strategies that the company had implemented. The decision making strategies used by the leaders of the company jeopardized the safety of the company, employees and customers (Crane & Matten, 2007).

For instance the leaders failed to implement good communication strategies in both directions of the company hierarchy system because they failed to listen to their subordinate staff for example warnings and advices from the safety team were ignored. The policies of the company were not followed to book because safety flaws were evident for example the company adorned poor employee hygiene and sanitization procedures. The citrus processing equipment was poorly maintained as it had become a favorable environment for breeding bacteria depicted by the presence of the black rotten curd.

The collected fruits have not properly cleaned a fact that can be attributed to the presence of E. coli bacteria which are found in the intestines of cows. Thus the bacteria could have only contaminated the fruits from the cows’ feaces after fallen fruits came into contact with feaces from cows that grazed near the orchards farm (Whitmore & Bachorik, 1996). The company can also be held accountable for the outbreak of E. coli bacteria because of breaking ethical codes by overshadowing the importance of fulfilling safety demands with fulfilling product demand.

It is quite evident that the company did not put first the safety of the community and its employees because it strived to increase its profit margins by providing more products into the market at all costs (Crane & Matten, 2007). For instance the company failed to observe industry safety regulations by not pasteurizing its products a regulation implemented by other manufacturing companies because they believed heat reduced the quality of products which it saw as a drawback to its total sales.

In the event of increasing the quantity of products produced and satisfying its greed the company accepted and used decayed fruits from suppliers a behavior that is ethically wrong as it is a risk factor to the health of people. In the process the company was responsible for the death of one child, hospitalization of others and permanent damage of body organs for example the kidney to affected patients thus denying them their rights to life.

The company also assumed that the acidic conditions it used as a safety mechanism would curb the possibility of bacteria survival which was proved wrong by the presence of a relatively small percentage of bacteria. Therefore, the company acted unethically because it failed to fulfill it purpose of conducting proper research that would have enabled it to devise production mechanisms that were effective and still maintain the quality of its products for instance flash pasteurization (Whitmore & Bachorik, 1996).

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Odwalla’s Responsibility Towards E. Coli Outbreak. (2018, Apr 21). Retrieved from

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