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How Should Pet Stores Deal with Product Recalls?

People swing by your pet store to stock up on food, supplies, and treats for their beloved animals. The last thing you want to do is sell your loyal customers a product that’s unsafe! But, like any industry, the pet industry faces regular recalls. By doing your part, you can minimize the risk of illness or death for pet patrons and salvage your reputation.

If you are found liable for damages, carrying pet business insurance will protect you from financial ruin. But wait, you may be thinking. Wouldn’t the legal and financial responsibility fall on the manufacturer? While this is often the case, it’s not a given. Let’s look at an example.

Back in 2007, Menu Foods recalled more than 150 brands of dog and cat food during a poisoning scare. It’s believed that melamine-tainted wheat gluten found its way into these foods via a supplier in China. Customer complaints sparked the product recall. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration received more than double its usual annual complaints—in one month. Very sadly, it’s estimated that this tainted food led to the deaths of thousands of pets.

Recalls are effective at containing future damage, but they don’t absolve involvement in the original incident. In the aftermath, issues of liability arise at the manufacturer, distributor, and retailer levels. As one insurance expert predicted, “The waters could become very muddled throughout the process. It could trigger a general liability policy for each of the involved entities. It all depends on how they have transferred the liability.”

For example, retailers may be held responsible if they allow recalled products to remain on their shelves. This is precisely why pet store owners should act quickly and decisively to minimize harm.

Typically, retailers will receive official word of recalls from the manufacturer involved. Most retailers report they can implement Class II and III food recalls within 24 hours of getting notice. These classifications of recalls mean the products may cause medically reversible consequences or are not likely to cause adverse effects. In more serious food recalls, considered Class I, customers may return products to the store. It’s the pet store’s responsibility then to properly dispose of these products as per the recall instructions. Accidentally putting them back on the shelf will open up additional liability risks.

Furthermore, pet store owners should make sure their staff members are fully trained in handling recalls. If any employee is unaware of a recall, they may accidentally re-shelve tainted products or make a dangerous recommendation to customers. It’s helpful to choose a centralized hub for posting relevant information, either in-person or online. That way, employees can quickly check for timely updates before they begin each shift.

At the end of the day, complying with recall rules is paramount. That means removing potentially harmful products immediately, disposing of them properly, and filing the necessary paperwork. Doing your due diligence saves precious pets lives and demonstrates to customers your commitment to safety.

In the event liability is transferred to your store, you’ll need pet business insurance on your side. General liability insurance as part of a Business Owners Policy covers legal fees and damages if someone sues your company.

Protect your pet store today, starting with a free policy quote from CoverHound!

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Insurance shopping simplified

Review personalized quotes, select coverages, and buy online - Everything insurance, all-in-one-place.

Insurance shopping simplified

Review personalized quotes, select coverages, and buy online - Everything insurance, all-in-one-place.
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