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True Costs Of A Food Safety Incident

by Andrew Thomson on September 22, 2019

Statistics alone don’t define the full extent of a food safety incident such as an outbreak of food poisoning.

Outbreaks occur due to a systems breakdown.

The effects are telling: it’s a financial burden on everyone, including the broader food industry; it causes much pain and suffering for those involved and in legal terms a food business at the centre of an outbreak can be liable for injuries caused and prosecuted by health authorities for failing to provide safe food.

Last week five people, including two owners of the three Angkor Bakery stores,  faced the Elizabeth Magistrates Court in South Australia. They were charged with failing to comply with food standards and providing unsafe food products following a salmonella outbreak in February of this year. Fifty-eight people were affected with twenty-one hospitalisations. The youngest was a one year old and the oldest sixty-eight. All five will reappear in Court in November. Read our earlier blog Food Poisoning – Every Food Business Owners Worst Nightmare written by Dr. Douglas Powell and myself.

Outside Court one of the bakery owners told awaiting 9News journalist Kate Lamb of the true cost of this incident to their bakery business: lost public confidence and a downturn in business sales and now the entire business concern is for sale; owners are unable to engage legal representation due to the financial cost; it has fractured the family.

All food operations regardless of the nature and size must demonstrate they have taken all reasonable precautions and due diligence. Providing quality food safety training for all employees is a good starting point. Compliance based training programs is the minimal standard and does not protect your operation, brand or customers.

Having sound food safety systems with the processes fully understood by operational management and employees is an imperative.

Failure to observe due diligence may save money in the short term but may well cost a food business in the long term. 

Want further food safety information, training or advice? Contact Andrew Thomson on 0422285720 or email info@thinkstsolutions.com.au

Dr. Powell is a former professor of food safety for 17 years at the University of Guelph and subsequently Kansas State, Powell has published 70 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters and a book.

Think ST Solutions helps protect and grow food businesses through innovation and risk management strategies.