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3 Costs to Foodborne Illness by Marshie Morgan

19 Jul 2019 16:00:00 Marshie


3000 die a year from foodborne diseases
3000 die of foodborne diseases a year


Every day around the world we hear in the news about a recall or a foodborne illness outbreak. CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. In restaurants, hospitals, hotels, food trucks and even convenience stores food safety should be our top priority above all else. The three costs to foodborne illness can cost the food establishment its business and reputation. Just think of Jack in the Box or Chipotle’s. Foodborne illness and food safety are no joking matter and when not taken seriously it can have negative effects on the bottom line. Yes, we want our customers to love us and come back to the dinner table each week. One way to ensure their loyalty is by keeping food safe.


First cost to foodborne illness is decreased revenues. A single foodborne illness outbreak could cost from a few thousand dollars to over two million depending on the severity of the illness according to researchers at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The nicer the establishment those dollars increase. Like I tell my students studying to get their food managers certification, “You can be the best chef out there, but you get someone sick it is all over.” 

The second cost to foodborne illness is legal fees and lawsuits and then throw in your insurance rates and you are screaming toward the hills. In our society, we want justice and use our judicial system to get it. It cost big bucks to protect ourselves from the scammers out there. When a foodborne illness breaks out you can sleep peacefully knowing you are partly protected by using an approved reputable supplier like Ben E. Keith or Sysco because they have insurance in the event a breakout occurs.


Thirdly, diminished sales and loyalty from your customers. Like a magic trick customers vanish overnight. Would you want to eat somewhere knowing someone is in the hospital from eating at the local diner, fast food joint or the newest and hottest food truck? I didn’t think so.

The bottom line is foodborne illness 9 times out of 10 is avoidable by following the principles of food safety. In America alone, it cost the food industry a minimum of $55 billion dollars a year. Once you add in the costs of medical treatment, lost productivity and loss of life, according to Robert Scharff’s study at Ohio State University, it tallies over $55 to $93 billion dollars. Scharff said, “These numbers reflect the fact that 1 out of every 6 people becomes ill every year from foodborne illness.”


Why risk putting your business in jeopardy? Get your employees from the front of the house to the back of the house trained in food safety. I know it costs money to get everyone trained. Ask yourself this simple question. In the long run is it better to have an operation running correctly, safely and profitable then short changing it for being responsible for customers ending up in the hospital or worse yet under some daisies?


Author, Chef Marshie Morgan

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