Robert Nugent, President, Jack in the Box

What was the accusation?

On January 15, 1993, the Washington State Health Department notified Jack in the Box president Robert Nugent of an E. coli outbreak apparently linked to the fast food chain’s hamburgers. Hundreds of people across the Western U.S.A. would be infected by the bacteria, and three to four children would perish from its effects. At first, and following a period of no comment, Nugent sought to shift responsibility to other parties (the company’s meat supplier, the Washington Health Department, etc.). Eventually, Nugent did accept responsibility on behalf of the company and took steps to rectify the matter at an organizational and human level.    

Key Apologia Strategies:

Shifting Responsibility, Bolstering, Corrective Action






COMPANY NEWS; Jack in the Box’s worst nightmare. (1993, February 6). The New York Times. Retrieved from

Goff, R. (1999, May 17). Coming clean. Forbes. Retrieved from

Harris, V., Hart, D., Hibbard, B., Jurgensen, J., & Wells, J. (n.d.). Crisis Communication Strategies. Retrieved from

Sellnow, T.L., & Ulmer, R.R. (1995). Ambiguous argument as advocacy in organizational crisis communication. Argumentation & Advocacy, 31(3), 138-150.