Academic Network

Posts Tagged ‘recall’

How to Keep Safe in an Era of Increasing Product Recalls?

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Maybe you were affected by the recent peanut butter recall, or last year’s pet food recall, or the holiday toys recalled for lead poisoning. Perhaps you take prescription medications that affected you adversely. As a consumer, you may own or have ingested a product that has been — or will be — recalled because of safety issues. Finding out about recalls can be challenging due to the large number of products available and the lack of a consistent method for manufacturers to reach consumers.

So, how do you keep up with all of these product recalls that could be harmful or even fatal? Most people want to know as soon as possible whether they could be in harm’s way because of a recent purchase. The news media will typically cover such episodes but is it fast enough to get the word out? There are options. You can register your new product if it is a consumer good or check out the company’s website or blogs.
The downside to surfing websites is you have to keep returning to them for updated information. That’s why the government’s electronic notification system is so handy — you can sign up for all notifications, or you can specify a particular type of recall. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll receive an e-mail asking you to confirm your subscription by replying to the message. Whenever a product manufacturer or a government agency issues a recall, you’ll immediately receive an alert. If you want a blanket subscription — where you get all recall e-mails from the CPSC, FDA or USDA — go to and type your e-mail address in the boxes shown. If you suspect that you have become ill or harmed by a product, you may report an adverse event online directly to the agency through this website that has links to all agencies governing recalls. While some manufactures have a toll free number to report an adverse event, we encourage you to report directly on line too.

Another great way to keep abreast of recalls is Twitter and blogs. If you tweet, use hashtags such as #recalls, #FDA, #,food, #pharma and #foodsafety to keep abreast of the current tweets. Blogs such as are a good resources too. A product recall situation can be an opportunity to demonstrate a high level of commitment to your customer.

National manufacturers of food & beverage, consumer products and pharmaceuticals rely on the Pearl’s own Academic Network, a Stericycle company, to handle adverse event reporting during a recall. Academic Network’s 300- seat capacity call center staffed by trained medical professionals provides adverse event reporting outsourcing services to companies that need additional support during a crisis. In addition to adverse event reporting, Academic Network’s staff of registered nurses, dietitians and highly-trained general operators provide consumer affairs support to the food and pharmaceutical industries for consumer information toll free lines and patient recruitment. The firm’s collective experience provides the ability to respond quickly with acute knowledge and sensitivity to your customers in the event of a product recall or adverse event situation. Call us at 503.228.3217 or visit

Academic Network Named One of Fastest Growing Companies in the Nation

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Ranks on BusinessWeek’s Inner City Top 100 List

Congratulations to our Portland team at Academic Network! We are honored to be named one of the fastest growing inner city companies in the nation for the second consecutive year! Academic Network placed 49th on 11th Annual Top Inner City 100 list sponsored by BusinessWeek and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC). The ICIC was established to recognize the fastest growing companies in America that are based in the “inner city” and provide new business growth potential to their communities. Innovative practices and sustained growth are the predominant traits of the 2009 Inner City 100 award winners. Through an annual national competition, ICIC ranks the 100 fastest-growing businesses in inner city settings. The 2009 award ceremony was held May 20th in Boston.

Academic Network’s staff of healthcare professionals include physicians, nurses and dieticians. We believe our growth is based on our ability to quickly staff our contact centers with healthcare professionals, our enhanced adverse events monitoring and the use of social media in patient recruitment. We continue to grow our consumer affairs and patient recruitment business, while providing adverse event reporting during product recalls for the protection of the consumer.

Outbreak, Recall Information Seekers Drive Social Media Adoption

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Everyone is online these days, watching and discussing health-related news. Within a few days of news of the swine flu outbreak, the term “swine flu” became 10x more popular on blogs and Twitter than references to the peanut-related salmonella problems earlier this year, according to Nielsen Online, which tracks online buzz.

We tracked the peanut recall ourselves, and were amazed at the rapid spread of information and questions surrounding the recall of hundreds of products made from peanut paste.

Agencies Lead Outbreak and Recall Information Distribution

Government agencies, most notably the CDC and FDA are leading sources of health-related news and recall information. They’re taking a leadership position, especially in getting recall news out via social media means.

On Wednesday, April 29, the CDC’s emergency Twitter feed had blossomed to more than 40,000 followers (up from a few thousand during the peanut recall in February.) Today, their feed has more than 57,000 subscribers.

Who knows how many followers they’ll have as the swine flu news and information spreads?

In an interview on NPR, Andrew Wilson, heading up the Health and Human Services efforts to think about uses of technology for outreach, said, “Not only are we trying to get information out using these tools, but we’re also trying to establish relationships.”

They’ve been learning, as have we at Academic Network, that by establishing online relationships with bloggers, journalists and public health officials, agencies are able to combat misinformation and broadcast warnings extremely quickly.

Recall News and Information Resources

The FDA has a wonderful online resource for consumers – an online alert system that anyone can use to:

♦ Subscribe to recall alerts by email
♦ Report a recall
♦ See all food and pharmaceutical-related recalls is a site coordinated by “six federal agencies with vastly different jurisdictions” that have joined together to “create a “one stop shop” for U.S. Government recalls.” On this site, any consumer can report a defective product directly to the government, an important service.

As we support companies with products in recall situations, Academic Network and our parent company Stericycle will to continue to leverage social media to understand and help answer questions consumers are asking around recalled products, and to engage in getting the right information out about products in recall at the most critical time in the most efficient manner.

What if the Peanut Industry Had Used Social Media to Monitor & Engage Consumer Discussions?

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Academic Network Leads Social Media Panel Today at SOCAP International Symposium: Social Media is Here to Stay so Companies Need to Prepare to Engage Consumers Online

April 21, 2009 (Chicago) —What if the US peanut industry – and the hordes of products and companies impacted by the recent recall — had used the power of the social media to both monitor online activity and engage consumers in discussions and build relationships? Academic Network, a Stericycle company, today led food, beverage and pharmaceutical companies in a panel discussion at SOCAP International Symposium about preparing companies and employees to engage in social media, a phenomenon that’s here to stay according to panelists.

As consumers flood online to research recent food industry recall issues, conversations are springing up all over the web. Consumers are sharing information – ideas, stories, and experiences – about food and drug recalls, diet, and healthy lifestyles. Forward-thinking companies are beginning to look not only at how their brands are reflected, but how their products are being talked about within online communities.

“Companies need to build online relationships with consumers and customers long before a recall or crisis hits,” says Janet Lee Johnson, senior online strategist, Academic Network, a Stericycle company and SOCAP panelist. “There will be more recalls in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. Companies need to anticipate by building online consumer relationships now so when the inevitable happens they can engage another channel of communications and branding — social media.”

Academic Network advises companies getting into social media for the first time to “walk don’t run” when readying for a social media initiative:

♦ Have an established social media policy for your organization – if you do nothing else

♦ Approach social media strategically – have a plan; develop with your media, marketing, pr, consumer affairs, web and online teams

♦ Be sure you have an online listening strategy and don’t be afraid of it – listen in on relevant blogs, websites, Twitter ( Facebook ( and more

♦ Bring bloggers and tweeters into corporate media relations outreach – more and more consumers are listening and reading online

♦ Actively engage in discussions online as part of consumer relations, communications and branding strategy

Academic Network, a Stericycle company, and award-winning medical and health communications firm, is now offering services to help clients practice safe, protected consumer engagement in the growing world of Health 2.0 — the use of social media for collaboration between patients, caregivers, medical professionals and other stakeholders. Because the trend toward Health 2.0 is growing so rapidly, Academic Network has started utilizing social media platforms to gather consumer information on new products, recruit patients for clinical trials and help clients successfully build, monitor, manage and track their online reputation as they engage with consumers online.

Follow Academic Network via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Pistachio Recall – FDA Information

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

In our efforts to monitor the current pistachio recall, we have provided a link to the FDA information page.

Social Media Presentation at SOCAP International Symposium – April 21, 2009

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

On April 21, Academic Network, a Stericycle Company, presents Leveraging Social Media in Product Recalls, a panel at the SOCAP International Symposium in Chicago. Top names in the corporate social media movement — Chris Gidez of Hill & Knowlton, Mia Novic of Nielsen Online, and Linnea Johnson of Unilever — join Janet Johnson and Dr. David McCarron of Academic Network for this presentation. Panelists discuss how to use online forums, including blogs, Facebook and Twitter, to gather up-to-the minute consumer information surrounding a product recall (such as the peanut butter recall) and explore innovative strategies to manage timely and effective corporate response. Academic Network is poised at the forefront of this communications revolution, and we look forward to a lively and informed discussion.

Consumer Education of Online Adverse Event Reporting Needed Now

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

The current peanut butter recall has raised red flags to the awareness, usefulness and timeliness of our current adverse event reporting system. Government agencies and private corporations are working together to seek fast reporting of incidents and improve coordination of efforts, however, ask the average consumer if they are aware of online reporting tools for adverse events and you will get the answer “No.”  Better yet, ask them what is an adverse event!

Thus a direct to consumer education program is clearly needed now. A good example of a good online reporting tool but with little awareness of it’s existance is the MedWatch form 3500 (click on the blue button on the right).  The FDA has created a video channel on YouTube and presence on Twitter, but a  targeted campaign effort to educate consumers through all media channels on the availability of this information has been overlooked and not stated properly to the public.

What are we waiting for…..hopefully, not the next big public health issue. Tools are available to monitor some of the chatter but a simplified system for consumers and healthcare workers to know how and where to report might be a simple solution. As we develop our online tools and advance efforts through social media, we must assure that we educate the public too. To report an adverse event online through the FDA here.  Find coverage here on RWW on how social media was effective in the peanut butter recall. And finally, find coverage here to see how the public assumed some major peanut butter brands were part of the recall but did not associate the recall with other products such as ice cream, snack foods, etc.