Ethical Issues and the Legal Environment of Business
In October of 1996, Odwalla was informed that their juice might be the cause of a dozen cases of E. Coli poisoning in the Seattle area. Based on interviews from the families, the health officials identified the bacteria to be associated with Odwalla apple juice. The officials do not have any proof of the bacteria, and that it may be a while until they know anything for sure. Health officials haven't even made public announcement or even ordered a product recall yet. No one was precisely sure on how much a recall would cost or how much a recall would hurt the company. They aren't really sure which lots were affected, or what was out there in the consumers' hands. Odwalla, Inc. now has a big problem: Did Odwalla produce apple juice containing the E. Coli bacterium?
A jazz musician named Greg Seltenpohl, his wife, and a friend, in 1980, founded the company. It started with fresh-squeezed orange juice in a backyard shed and expanded to a 65,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility with a variety of juices including apple juices. By 1996, Odwalla was responsible for over half of the juice market in California and was extending its market into the Midwest.
The juice sold at premium prices, contained no preservatives or any artificial ingredients, and was not pasteurized. The company believed that juices that were not pasteurized retained more vitamins, enzymes, and flavor. Though they didn't pasteurize their juices, they had many efforts in the manufacturing process to ensure quality and to avoid possible contamination. Odwalla was also a socially responsible company, and was aware of environmental issues with are critical to their mission. The company has won numerous awards for its environmental practices, and the name Odwalla was identified with a healthful lifestyle.
Did Odwalla, Inc. produce apple juice containing the E. Coli Bacterium?