3: The Importance of Food Safety

Why is food safety important to you? Well, you don’t want your customers getting sick from your food. This is the most important reason. However, there are other reasons that weigh heavily, such as your bottom line. One illness or outbreak (which is defined as two or more cases that have been confirmed by a laboratory) at your establishment could cost you tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars. This could happen as a result of an increase to your insurance premium, loss of business, damage to your reputation, the cost of correcting violations and legal costs, just to mention a few.

Speaking of legal costs, what about the liability issues? If someone gets sick from eating food at your establishment, is out of work for days due to illness, or they die, you can and will be held legally liable. What if many people get sick? The liability issues grow exponentially. The fact is, restaurants and handlers of food and food-related products have a legal responsibility to maintain a high level of product safety for their consumers. Many negligent companies have been tried in court and have had to pay out huge sums of money as a result of these foodborne illnesses. Below are examples of a few cases.

  • In 1993, $15.6 million was awarded in a case against Foodmaker, Inc. (Who is the parent company of Jack in the Box), for an outbreak of E. coli. (A total of $100 million was Jack in the Box’s total outlay for the outbreak).
  • In 2001, $4.75 million was awarded on behalf of 11 children for an E. coli outbreak involving a school lunch program in Washington State.
  • In 2008, $3 Million was awarded to 14 people who were seriously sickened by E. coli at a restaurant in Oak Grove, Oklahoma.
  • In 2015, there was a serious of foodborne illness outbreaks at Chipotle that resulted in the company’s stock value plummeting by $6,000,000,000 (yes, that’s $6 billion) in the last quarter of that year. In addition, you are required by law to serve safe food and it is your responsibility to be aware of what your local codes require. Many jurisdictions are now following the FDA Model Food Code. Reading this book and taking a course is an excellent way to begin to understand your responsibilities for serving food safely.

In addition, you are required by law to serve safe food and it is your responsibility to be aware of what your local codes require. Many jurisdictions are now following the FDA Model Food Code. Reading this book and taking a course is an excellent way to begin to understand your responsibilities for serving food safely.

Your Job is to Prevent Foodborne Illness. People are eating out today more than ever and it’s up to you to provide them with the safest food possible. Maybe you’re already doing a good job here, but my experience shows me there is always room for improvement. It is funny to hear the comments from some of our clients – usually the ones who have been in trouble with the health department. “I don’t know why we have to follow all these rules, you should see all the other restaurants nearby.” Your job is to protect YOUR customers and YOUR business. What you see at these other places will come back to haunt them! These rules are not arbitrary, they are there to prevent foodborne illness.

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