What E-Coli can teach us about brand-name academy chains

Laura McInerney

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A slightly provocative headline, but in this month’s Guardian column I use Jack-in-the-Box’s disasterous e-coli outbreak in 1993 to show how easily brand reputations can be tarnished. This is true even if the brand works zealously to overcome it. (JITB became so evangelical fast-food cooking changes that e-coli outbreaks subsequently dropped right across the fastfood industry).

While schools are usually in a less delicate position with regards to children’s health, there is a risk that with an increase in ‘branded schools’ child might end up ‘carrying’ around a bad name on their CVs for the rest of their life. It’s not a permanent injury, but it is an issue that needs careful forethought. After all, if Jack-in-the-box had been evangelical about e-coli before the outbreak there are 187 children who would not be suffering with permanent disabilities today.

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