June 16, 2024

Restaurant Outbreaks: Not the Fault of Workers

The history of food safety, corporate irresponsibility, and workers’ rights is long and tortuous (as well as tortious). From the days of Upton Sinclair (rotten and diseased meat), unpasteurized and tuberculosis-laden milk, all the way through the present, the dangers of unsafe food have been compounded by improperly trained and poorly paid food workers. In fact, during my career as a food safety lawyer on behalf of people harmed by contaminated food, I can honestly say that only a few cases did not involve food workers who were insufficiently trained, poorly paid or both. That’s particularly true in the restaurant industry, especially in fast food restaurants. Employees of those establishments who are paid poorly, have few benefits and no pensions are time and time again implicated … [Read more...]

California Will Require Paid Sick Leave for Restaurant Workers

The state of California may require paid sick leave for workers, which directly ties into food safety in restaurants. Legislation has been passed and Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign it. AB 1522, the Health Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 passed the state Senate with a 22-8 vote and the Assembly with a 52-25 vote. Restaurant workers who work while sick have caused many foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States. A study by the Food Chain Workers Alliance in 2012 found that more than half of all workers in the food industry work while they are sick because they cannot afford to take time off. In 2013, a study by the Environmental Health Specialists Network, a collaborative project of the CDC, FDA, and USDA, found that sick worker policies "may be an important … [Read more...]

Florida Passes Bill Prohibiting Required Paid Employee Sick Leave

In a blow to food safety in restaurants, Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott signed HB 655 that takes effect July 1, 2013. The law bans local governments from requiring that companies give employees paid sick time. As Food Poisoning Bulletin has told you before, lack of paid sick leave can cause food poisoning outbreaks. While states do have laws requiring that sick employees do not handle food, many workers will come to work anyway because they need the money. Restaurant employees are usually paid low wages and receive almost no benefits. And a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that ill food handlers are to blame for most norovirus outbreaks in this country and 65% of the food poisoning outbreaks at restaurants. In just the last month, foodborne illness … [Read more...]

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