Topps Meat Company: 0157:H7 E.Coli, Breaches & You…
They had a breach of the sanitation persuasion. From the NY Times:
Topps Meat Company, one of the country’s largest manufacturers of
frozen hamburgers, said today it was going out of business after it
recalled more than 21.7 million pounds of ground beef products last
The company, based in Elizabeth, N.J., said a few of its 87 employees will remain at the plant to help the United States Department of Agriculture investigate how the E. coli bacteria tainted frozen hamburger patties made there.
Anthony D’Urso, the chief operating officer at Topps, said the company
was unable to withstand the financial burden of the recall.
“This is tragic for all concerned,” Mr. D’Urso said in a statement. “In
one week we have gone from the largest U.S. manufacturer of frozen
hamburgers to a company that cannot overcome the economic reality of a
recall this large.”
On Sept. 25, the United
States Department of Agriculture announced a recall of frozen hamburger
patties from Topps, saying that the meat was potentially tainted by E.
coli bacteria. Officials at the agency conceded that they knew that
meat from Topps was contaminated on Sept. 7, when the first positive
test results for E. coli came back.
The financial strain associated with a recall of spoiled meat in a single week killed them.
So what does this have to do with data breaches?
When the ChoicePoint scandal hit, we saw Card Services shutter due to direct economic pressure (they could no longer process credit cards) brought about by the fallout from data breaches, but contrast that with the experience of a recent "breacher" such as TJX and some might argue that not only has it not actively impacted their P&L negatively, but it’s made them a better, stronger and more profitable company. The figures don’t lie:
After the TJX debacle I remember seeing predictions that people will vote with their feet. Of course they didn’t, sales actually went up 9%. The same argument was made for Ruby Tuesdays who lost some credit cards. It just doesn’t happen. Lake Chad and disasters on a global scale continue to plague us due to climate change yet still people refuse to stop buying SUV’s.
Check out the chronology of security breaches from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. The total
number of records containing sensitive personal information involved in security breaches:
That number is mounting every day
and some of these breaches you don’t even hear about in the press.
Have we become so
desensitized to this breach fiasco that it’s become just a mild
inconvenience? Or is it that credit card number losses have been subconsciously classified outside of the scope of "identity theft?"
Think about it. Having your credit card number stolen is really, in the scope of things, not that big of a deal. You call the CC company, dispute any charges you didn’t make, they close the account and despite the inconvenience, that’s it. Then a new card shows up in the mail, sometimes with a larger spending limit! Sweet!
The liability is minimal. It’s happened to me twice. My credit wasn’t impacted, my life didn’t end. In fact, I got a card with a cool Koi on it that matches one of my tattoos. I’m not saying it goes that "well" for everyone, but what’s the impetus for consumer outrage?
As soon as the liability is shifted away from the banks who suck it up and take the hit (as do the vendors whose merchandise is stolen,) and moves closer to the consumer, we’ll see some agitation and consumer outrage.
Until then, I suppose we’re content to just go on eating spoiled meat (as it were) and get a new credit card number every three months until a company like Topps — or rather one that people really care about — goes through the meat grinder and closes its doors.
Where’s the beef?