Shawn K Stevens, Founder
Afood recall is capable of stirring up a storm of fear and uncertainty in the minds of consumers and manufacturers alike. This dreaded incident can not only incur heavy financial losses but cause lasting damage to a brand’s reputation. While the globalization of food production and distribution has undeniably increased product selection, it has also resulted in greater potential for disruptive recall incidents. These can negatively impact businesses’ bottom lines with an average cost of $10 million, not to mention the difficulties companies face navigating the unforgiving regulatory landscape. The U.S. alone experienced over 500 major recalls in 2021, which has resulted in businesses rethinking their strategies and implementing robust policies and procedures to ensure the quality and safety of the products before they reach consumers. In effect, both large and small food and beverage companies are increasingly seeking trusted partners to advocate on their behalf and help them traverse the complex arenas of regulatory compliance, high-profile recalls, class-action lawsuits, and increased liability.
Fulfilling this critical need in the marketplace is Food Industry Counsel (FIC), a leading consulting and law firm dedicated to exclusively serving clients within the food and beverage industry. “Over the last two decades, we have continuously helped producers, distributors, and large national restaurant and grocery chains produce safer products and decrease their liability and exposure. We work closely with our clients to reduce their risks through brand protection audits, and share both good and bad experiences to instil best practices within their companies,” states Shawn K. Stevens, the Founder, FIC.
Stevens goes on to say that the food industry is currently going through a food safety revolution, with agencies such as the CDC, FDA, and USDA becoming more stringent about testing and detecting foodborne illnesses in real-time. In turn, FIC works with its clients to help overcome their food protection challenges, maintain their competence, and ultimately drive customer satisfaction.
FIC also helps clients align with this industry shift with its Food Recall Reporter (www. foodrecallreporter.com), enabling companies to search all USDA and FDA food product recalls since 2000 to help assess supplier and ingredient risks and conduct hazard analyses.The company also focuses on ensuring clients remain compliant with FDA and USDA food labeling requirements to increase compliance and decrease the risk of class-action lawsuits.
In case of a lawsuit, FIC takes on the role of legal advocate and defends its clients faced with food safety litigation. FIC also assists in resolving commercial lawsuits following a product recall. If disputes arise from recall insurance claims, FIC’s team supports clients convincing their recall insurers and insurance companies to pay the claims.
On the regulatory compliance side, most of FIC’s work is done remotely and efficiently, providing the most cost-effective solution for clients. Over the years, the company has built immense credibility with FDA, USDA, and CDC regulators, enabling the firm’s experts to speak directly with those agencies and act as a liaison to help clients effectively resolve any issues. Not stopping there, FIC also works with clients to guide them within the complex laws governing cannabis and CBD.
We are helping producers, distributors, larger restaurants, and grocery chains to produce safer products and decrease their liability and exposure
Whether a crisis arises from a product recall or a potential class-action lawsuit, it is critical to maintaining sound communication. FIC’s team has the prowess in effectively managing clients’ PR and communications and directing them to say the right things at the right time to protect their brands. “We are a 24/7 firm, and our promised response time is 60 minutes as we realize that issues relating to any recall or crisis require a quick reaction force. That’s the role we play. We stand side by side with our clients, ready to deploy upon a moment’s notice to help them through their most difficult challenges,” adds Stevens.
From the get-go, FIC strives to build lifelong relationships with clients and often refers to them as colleagues. Unlike other firms, the company does not require any upfront retainer or recurring monthly retainers. “Our no-retainer outlook is consistent with our relationships model as opposed to the financial model other firms follow. Our services are competitively priced with Midwest prices versus that of the east or west coast,” mentions Stevens.
Looking ahead, FIC aims at continuing to offer world-quality services to the industry, convey the highest level of commitment and compassion to clients, and develop new tools to decrease risk while helping clients produce safe products. Having been a part of hundreds of industry events as the primary speaker, Stevens has a wealth of knowledge and expertise around emerging scientific food safety and regulatory issues, which help propel the company forward and establish it as an advocate for the industry. “If anything touches food safety, we touch it. Everything food safety is what we do. Our firm stands for helping clients produce safer products while decreasing their liabilities,” concludes Stevens.