The Scottish salmon industry appears to have emerged from the crisis in pretty good shape.
SQS appears to have been well-prepared for the crisis, with the flexibility of both an in-house team and a PR agency on call, enabling it to respond quickly. It would have been good to have seen a consumer hotline and simple consumer literature available for retailers to reassure consumers of the benefits and safety of salmon.
A big asset in maintaining consumer confidence was the Food Standards Agency (FSA), whose strong consumer focus means it is often at odds with the food industry over safety warnings. Normally you would recruit an independent 'white coat' commentator to put a food scare in perspective.
On this occasion, however, FSA chairman Sir John Krebs was a key advocate for the salmon industry. This will have been of much greater interest to consumers than the 'victim' strategy that was also employed.
With current consumption only around one portion of oily fish a month, the FSA's proactive support may have accounted for the reported rise in sales of salmon in the days immediately following the scare. And the news of buoyant sales will have helped further restore consumer confidence.
There may well still be long-term fall-out from the crisis, and the industry will need to demonstrate confidence in its product through the range of consumer media, but the SQS assurance scheme and communications programme mean that it is well placed both to address further quality issues and to help consumers identify salmon produced to the highest standards.