Every day Meals on Wheels SA supports more than 5,000 elderly, housebound or disabled South Australians live independently in their own home through the provision of delivered meals - prepared, cooked and delivered by 10,000 volunteers.
In 2011, Hughes Public Relations provided crisis management support to Meals on Wheels around a precautionary food safety announcement.
Though not required to do so by law, Meals on Wheels (SA) undertake a rigorous routine testing program to monitor the safety of the food it produces for its clients. The presence of listeria in one product was detected through this testing.
The product could not be recalled from kitchens as it had already been served to a proportion of clients when the positive test result was obtained.
Meals on Wheels needed immediate support to inform and reassure their clients, their families and the wider community about the potential health risk whilst protecting its reputation as a trusted and valued community service.
The objectives of the communication strategy were to:
The communication strategy rested on Hughes Public Relations being a core member of the crisis management team. This enabled Hughes Public Relations to have 24-hour access to information and to act quickly and effectively to:
"The recent incident, focussed on one meal prepared by Meals on Wheels, on one day. This amongst the many thousands of meals we produce each day in this State. Our effective planning and early engagement with the Department of Health, Hughes PR and our management team ensured that this incident was treated in perspective and we believe has had little to no impact on our brand. The expertise and experience of Hughes PR contributed greatly to achieving a successful outcome. It was a job well done by all."
Sharon Broer, CEO, Meals on Wheels SA