The cost of poor hygiene and food poisoning
Persons carrying on a food business have legal, commercial and moral obligations to provide safe food. The cost resulting from food poisoning can be very high, as are those from poor hygiene. These costs, both financial and social, fall on employers and employee’s as well as those persons who are ill. Cost for employers include:
- the loss working days, and productivity, from illness caused by employees eating contaminated food;
- the closure of food premises, or the prohibition of processes by local authority action;
- brand damage: a loss of business and reputation, either from bad publicity or from public reaction to poor standards, food poisoning outbreaks or even deaths;
- increase risk of pest infection;
- fines and costs of legal action taken because of contraventions of hygiene legislation or because of the sale of unfit or unsatisfactory food;
- civil action taken by food poisoning sufferers, or those aggrieved by injury or trauma from foreign bodies in food;
- food losses due to premature spoilage or damage, because of poor stock rotation, incorrect storage temperatures or pest infestations;
- low staff morale, higher turnover with attendants costs and inefficiencies from staff unwilling or unable to tolerate poor standards;
- food complaints and costs of internal investigation and decontamination; and
- loss of production.
Food employees may suffer by:
- Losing their jobs because of closure, loss of business or because they become long-term carriers of food poisoning organisms, especially salmonella;
- losing overtime or bonuses.