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All Areas of Concern

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All Areas of Concern

Product recall

Trades / Industries:

Clara worked for Maria, the buyer of a gourmet food department. They received a shipment of thin little wafers from a foreign country that had cream filling with fruits. The wafers were packed in foil-covered boxes, but somehow some wafers were infested with insects. Clara and Maria assumed that the news was not widely spread out yet because not all of the customers brought back the contaminated product.  But some customers did return the product.  Obviously, Clara and Maria could not continue to sell them. They couldn’t inspect all the boxes and keep the uninfected ones because there were too many boxes.  Also, the inspection would involve damaging the foil-covered boxes which would lead to a loss of products worth $900,000.


Maria said that the manufacturer would not refund them because the infestation occurred very possibly during the shipment or even during the storage at the food department’s warehouse.   Maria told Clara to get rid of the product by all means.  Clara thought that Maria meant a disposal of the product; but Maria then clearly said, “Absolutely not disposal. Call YY and KK. They operate retail stores in the new towns and sell almost anything. We’ve got to get some of our money back.” Clara was shocked when hearing the instructions.


Should Clara follow Maria’s instructions? Would it be better if she told YY and KK the truth?   What if the product brought in thousands of complaints?  Clara found herself in the middle of a nightmare.

Case Analysis

Clara was facing an ethical dilemma that might put her personal values such as respect, responsibility and honesty to challenge. In handling the situation, Clara should identify the relevant facts and take stock of all stakeholders concerned. The following factors should be taken into consideration when identifying viable alternatives and choosing the best course of action:


  1. Any violation to her professional, industry specific, or company code of conduct?
  2. Is it against the Law?
  3. Does it correspond with her self-values such as loyalty, honesty?
  4. Can she disclose her decision to others openly and honestly without misgivings?


The ETHICS PLUS ethical decision making model might be helpful for her in solving the dilemma.

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