Someone just leaked this confidential memo to us. What do you make of this?
To: The General Mills Board of Directors
From: The General Mills Legal Department
Re: Our new “Get Out of Jail Free” Card
Date: April 18, 2014
Let me start by saying, “You are welcome!”
You know how thrilled we were (but also secretly freaked out) when our competitor, Chobani, made all those people sick last September and had to recall their moldy yogurt. You know how much we hate Chobani. Remember when they called us out on fillers we were using to thicken our Yoplait Greek Yogurt – even running “online marketing campaign[s] featuring slogans like, ‘Real is more filling, less filler’”? How dare they. It even forced us “back to the drawing board on Yoplait” once again (after that last “blended fruit” redo in 2011.)
Our sales were “meh.” Our investors weren’t happy. And we were also having to settle lawsuits like the one where we falsely advertised “the digestive health benefits of … Yo-Plus probiotic yogurt” (which we no longer sell, by the way).
Not that yogurt was our only problem, of course. Remember when we implied that Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups contained actual strawberries? Thanks to the "food police" we had to settle that case too.
But thanks to us - the brilliant corporate law department at GM (not to be confused with those losers at that other GM) - we have finally found a way to outsmart that darn Chobani, screw over our customers (without them even knowing it), stop lawsuits that force us to change our behavior, and make our investors much happier (at least the ones who aren’t actual customers of ours)!
We have created an awesome new policy making it illegal for anyone to sue us in court if they:
- download or print a coupon;
- “join” an online communities (which online communities is in question, but possibly including Facebook);
- subscribe to an email newsletter;
- or redeem a promotion or participate in any "offering."
Now I have to say, when we announced this we didn’t expect a PR backlash but once the New York Times decided to blow our carefully thought-out stealth roll-out plan, well it got a little crazy. So what we’re saying now is that people can still sue us under a few limited circumstances. But you have to hand it to us: the policy is so vaguely written that I am pretty sure we have a fighting chance to throw any case out of court! (That Julia Duncan from the American Association for Justice seems to have our number, though. As she told the New York Times, “It is very clear that if you do any number of things, you are covered by these changes. … If you use a coupon, go on their website, participate in a promotional campaign of any sort, sign up for email alerts or ‘participate in any offering by General Mills.’ That is so exceptionally broad that it may be possible anything you purchase from them would be held to this clause.”)
One thing is very clear: if you download a 50 cent Cheerios coupon, no more Yoplait lawsuits for you!
In 2013, FoodNet identified 19,056 cases of infection, 4,200 hospitalizations, and 80 deaths. The number and incidence per 100,000 population were Salmonella (7,277 [15.19]), Campylobacter (6,621 [13.82]), Shigella (2,309 [4.82]), Cryptosporidium (1,186 [2.48]), STEC non-O157 (561 [1.17]), STEC O157 (552 [1.15]), Vibrio (242 [0.51]), Yersinia (171 [0.36]), Listeria (123 [0.26]), and Cyclospora (14 [0.03]). Incidence was highest among persons aged ≥65 years for Cyclospora, Listeria, and Vibrio and among children aged <5 years for all the other pathogens.
I don't know what all this means except that food keeps poisoning people. And remember, we make Old El Paso Salsa too, and the last thing we need are lawsuits from contaminated Superbowl partiers.
So as I said, you are welcome!