48 million Americans get sick from foodborne illness.
That’s equivalent to 1 in 6 Americans.
128,000 are hospitalized.
And 3,000 die.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that foodborne illness cost $15.6 billion each year.
Let’s admit that these statistics are alarming.
And if you own or operate a food business, you want to take every preventive measure to keep your product safe.
Foodborne illness is common and costly, but most importantly - it’s preventable.
And while the government can (and eventually, will) tighten enforcement of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to help prevent foodborne illness…this route can lead to costly penalties to your Ohio food company for non-compliance.
Your best option:
Encourage a food safety culture that prevents food contamination from occurring.
...Food contamination meaning harmful chemicals or microorganisms found in food that can lead to a consumer becoming ill.
Foodborne illness is caused by consuming contaminated foods and beverages. And the policies and procedures to prevent food contamination are rather simple.
It’s just a matter of integrating these food safety policies into the everyday practice of your employees.
Consider implementing the following safety tips in your Ohio food company to help prevent contamination:
- Personal Hygiene: Mandate all employees to wear clean garments and footwear, along with effective hair and facial coverings and impermeable gloves. Encourage employees to wash their hands after using the restroom, smoking or eating. Hands also need to be washed immediately after handling any raw materials, poultry or eggs.
- Disease Control: Encourage employees to stay home if they feel ill by offering paid sick time. An ill employee that breathes near food can transfer germs or illness even without coughing or sneezing directly into the food. Also ensure that all employees cover any cuts, burns, sores, and infected wounds with a clean bandage.
- Education and Training: Employees need to be educated on best practices to reduce the risk of contamination. Offer special trainings on allergens, labeling, cross contamination, foodborne illness, etc. to make them aware of the risks and provide for them implementable strategies to reduce those risks in the workplace.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than 200 known diseases that can be transmitted through food.
The causes of foodborne illness include viruses, bacteria, parasites, toxins, metals and prions. And symptoms range from mild stomach discomfort to life-threatening neurological disorders.
You do not want to be responsible for any of that.
By emphasizing a culture that puts food safety at the center, you are protecting not only your consumers, but your bottom line.
Otherwise, you face significantly more risk of recall.
And let me tell you from experience working with food companies across the region…
It’s not worth the risk.
I'm sure you have some more questions about how you can prevent foodborne illness and food contamination from occurring in your food business.
My name is Pat O'Neill and I'm a Food Recall Protection Specialist here at The O'Neill Group. Call me at (330) 334-1561 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you have.
Components of this article were adapted from Zywave.
For more articles on risk trends for the food industry, visit www.oneillinsurance.com/recallontap