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Archive for the ‘Food Defense’ Category

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.

Food Fraud: More Than Just Economic Injury

Do you really know what kind of fish you’re eating?” And why that’s such an important question?

As recently reported in Food Safety News, food fraud (by way of species substitution) presents more than a risk of ripping off consumers.  Pregnant women may be unwittingly exposed to toxins, gastric distress, and allergens from consuming seafood that is not what it purports to be.  Honest employees of fishing companies, distributors, and retailers that sell genuine products can lose sales and their jobs.

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) recently asked the FDA to increase its efforts to reduce seafood mislabeling.  For bad actors, increased “traceability and enforcement . . . from bait to plate” presents risks of criminal prosecution and civil damages from class action litigation.  However, for seafood companies that adopt best practices, it also provides promotional and marketing opportunities.

Transporting Perishable Products? Maintain the Cold Chain.

February 14, 2011 4 comments

What is a “Cold Chain?”

A cold chain is just a supply chain that maintains a constant cold temperature.  This helps ensure product safety and stability.

What are Some Critical Cold Chain Risks?

The effort required to identify and minimize cold chain risks (and verify your efforts to do so) depends in part on whether your ingredient sources and final product distribution are local, regional, national, and/or international.  A cold chain export logistics system may include 39 or more steps and 21 or more potential cold chain failure points.  The greater the number of variables, the greater the risk of cold chain failure.

Risks to the supply chain during domestic transportation include training employees to load products properly into refrigerated trailers to maintain the consistent desired temperature, such as 45 degrees F for shell eggs.

Why is Cold Chain Risk Management Important?

If you cannot document that you have maintained temperature security for your perishable products, you might unintentionally sell spoiled food to your customers.  This presents organoleptic concerns as well as health risks, because pathogenic bacteria may not be detectable by taste or smell.

How Can My Company Manage Cold Chain Risks?

Your company can apply HACCP principles to manage its cold chain to identify risks, mitigate them, and maintain optimum product quality and safety.  This includes keeping good records of your compliance by, e.g., using integrated time and temperature recording devices to monitor cold cargo.

The FDA provides a wide variety of free forms to document compliance for a number of types of regulated food processors, both at the production plant and in transit.

Food Processing Companies, Restaurants, and Foodservice Providers: Do You Have a Current Food Defense Plan?

February 8, 2011 1 comment

Is your company implementing plans to protect its products from intentional harm?  Reducing this risk helps protect your customers, your employees, and your business.

What is a Food Defense Plan?

A Food Defense Plan is a written plan to identify, address, and minimize the risk of intentional harm to food, such as deliberately adding pesticide to ground beef sold for human consumption.

Why is a Food Defense Plan Necessary?

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has determined that the food and agriculture industry is one of the nation’s most critical elements of infrastructure.  This trillion-plus dollar industry may be vulnerable to attack.

How Can My Business Develop a Food Defense Plan?

Preparing a Food Defense Plan requires identifying potential vulnerabilities, preparing a written plan to minimize them, and verifying the effectiveness of the food defense measures.  The FDA and USDA have free food defense plan development and training resources available.