If you have taken a quick break and visited a news website this morning, you will know that the police in Northern Ireland are investigating the presence of human waste in Coca Cola cans.

“Yuck” was my first reaction, plus a touch of pride that I only drink water! But then I thought some more: How did this happen? What are the implications of this?

Well I will certainly not be buying any Coca Cola in the next few days, just in case …  Possibly I’m not the only one. Plus their factory is in shutdown, at least partially, while the police investigate. Let’s think of some of the costs:

  1. Bad press … I would say that ‘any press is good press’ does not apply here!
  2. Sales falling in the short-term.
  3. Extra paperwork etc to support the police investigation.
  4. Partial factory shutdown meaning loss of revenue.

To be fair, the issue was identified within the factory. So no recalls are needed. If that weren’t the case, the costs would be even more significant, both in terms of money and reputation damage … which in the end is also very costly.

So what lessons will you learn from this?

  • You need a reliable Quality Management software to prevent such situations, or at least identify them early on.
  • This Quality Management software needs effective workflow management options, so the right people are quickly updated, corrective actions are logged in, and alerts for follow-up are sent.
  • Ideally you would have an intelligent software which chases people who don’t follow-up, and also alerts the Quality Manager of this breakdown.
  • This Quality Management software should allow you to generate complex reports, to help you spot vulnerable areas. Thus you can work on tightening these areas.
  • The best system is one which allows for red-hold/quarantine management.

Human waste in your food product is probably quite unlikely … well, I should hope so! But even less newsworthy quality problems could be costly, in both time and money. So it makes sense to plan well for the eventuality … I mean, if it can happen to Coca Cola, one of the world’s best-known brands …

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