Paid Sick Leave for Food Workers is a Win-Win

(Image Credit: International Business Times “When Sick, Most Food Service Employees Go To Work Anyway

Paid sick leave for food workers should have always been a no-brainer, because it’s a win-win for business and public health. But in our new “normal” of Shelter-in-Place, it should be mandatory.

The Need

As of 2018, more than 13 million Americans worked in foodservice. A recent federal study found that about one out of every eight restaurant workers “worked when they were sick with vomiting or diarrhea on two or more shifts during the last year.”  Other studies have found that HALF of food industry employees go to work even when they are sick.

Why? Because “if you don’t go to work, you don’t get paid.” And few states require restaurants to provide paid sick leave to their workers. (Beginning in 2015, California required restaurants to provide paid sick leave under The California Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014.)

The newly-passed federal “Families First” Act is a good first step, but it does not go nearly far enough. It is temporary (expires December 31, 2020), and there are huge exceptions for large employers like McDonald’s, with 1.7 million employees. (McDonald’s and some other large restaurant chains have voluntarily offered limited paid sick leave, but many workers fear retaliation for attempting to use it.) There are also exceptions for small businesses.

The Plan

A national paid sick leave act for food industry workers, with protection against retaliation, is needed. Pandemics do not respect state boundaries or our federalist system of government. Sick people must stay home to protect others against COVID-19 and future pandemics. The benefits of (im)mobilizing to prevent collapse of our health care system and economy far exceed the costs.

Hand Sanitizers Don’t Remove Food Allergens


Image credit: University of Nebraska

Everyone knows that hand washing is an important part of staying healthy. Hand sanitizers have their place, too, because they kill germs. However, sanitizers do not remove food allergens.

sanitizers dont stop allergens

Image credit:

This means that if you eat a food that contains allergens like peanuts, there is a serious risk that the allergic peanut proteins will still be on your hands even if you use hand sanitizer. To reduce the risk of contaminating other people or surfaces with those allergens, wash your hands with soap and water, or use wet wipes.

Fish Fraud: Still Rampant

Image credit: Oceana

Seafood fraud: the more things change, the more they stay the same. Species substitution is an economic fraud. It also puts people at risk of exposure to higher levels of mercury. Lastly, the substituted fish may have been caught in an environmentally destructive manner.

Categories: Uncategorized

Don’t Eat Raw Turkey!


Image Credit: Wirecutter

Sounds simple, right? Yes, but you can’t just eyeball a Butterball. Make sure your Thanksgiving turkey is safe to eat — cook to an internal temperature of 165 F, measured with a digital thermometer. Buying one costs far less than food poisoning! Bonus: your bird will be moist and delicious without being overcooked.

Check out Amazing Ribs for safe cooking temps for other meats (and incredible recipes).



Categories: Food Poisoning


Today’s New York Times published a front-page report about starvation of millions of people in Yemen, including toddlers like 20-month old Jenna Ali Hatem. America’s inaction and relative silence about this humanitarian crisis is horribly wrong.

Juxtaposing that image of famine with an article about Thanskgiving feasts should give us all pause. Little more than age and luck separate the girls in these photos. As we enter the holiday season, please do more to help those who can’t help themselves.

Categories: hunger

Pret A Manger and Restaurant Liability For Food Allergy Injuries

Restaurants can be held responsible for food allergy injuries and deaths, so it is important that they provide accurate information to food-allergic consumers. Thanks to @marketwatch for the opportunity to discuss these issues.

Pret a Manger

Image credit: Getty Images

Nacho cheese sauce blamed for botulism food poisoning cases in Sacramento

CNN is reporting an outbreak of botulism food poisoning allegedly caused by nacho cheese from a convenience store.

Categories: Uncategorized

Real Food/Fake Food

September 13, 2016 Leave a comment

I’m honored to be quoted in Larry Olmsted’s New York Times bestseller, Real Food Fake Food.

Food fraud is a recurring and pervasive problem in many industries – seafood, olive oil, wine, honey, and many more; even rice.

Why food fraud? Much is economically motivated, i.e., follow the money. But this can be much more than just a hit to the wallet; food that is not what it purports to be can cause injury.

How can it be stopped? Transparency and traceability are two tools that can help. Some consumers are also turning to class action lawsuits to try and clean up the industry.

Legislators Question Epi-Pen Price Spikes

Image Credits: Mylan (R), New York Times

Following up on my posting about why Epi-Pen prices have increased 5-6X in 12 years, the New York Times reports that a bipartisan group of legislators is questioning the basis for these price spikes.

As the medicine and injection technology have not changed in years, consumers have also started an on-line petition to Stop the Epi Pen Price Gouging.

Mylan’s virtual monopoly limits access to life-or-death medication and disproportionately redistributes public dollars for private gain.

Food Fraud – More Emerging Risks

August 3, 2016 1 comment

fake rice image

Image Credit: Mauro Alvarees and Q Costa Rica

Just when I thought I understood the vast extent of food fraud, FoodLawLatest reported about another one: rice made from plastic. Rice is one of the cheapest foods available, so I had not considered that it presented a risk of economic fraud.

If someone is making a profit from selling a food, then there is a motive and opportunity for someone else to sell a counterfeit version of it. This problem is worldwide — from fake bottled water in China, to counterfeit Smirnoff vodka in Europe, to mislabeled seafood in the U.S. And this problem is not limited to high-value products.

Although some fraudsters are criminally prosecuted, some consumers who discover food fraud seek justice with class action lawsuits.