Food-borne illness complaints can have a serious impact on a food business. Even if the business isn’t closed down by the authorities, the damage to reputation can be hard to overcome.
Every complaint that you receive about food-borne illness must be taken seriously. If the food prepared by your business has caused someone to become sick, this is your best opportunity to prevent the same thing happening to others.
There are four parts to dealing with food-borne illness complaints:
All employees in a food business should be trained in how to handle food-borne illness complaints.
If the customer is still sick and has not already visited a medical specialist, advise them to do so.
After a complaint's been made, you should contact your local health authorities to inform them.
There are many causes for food-borne illness outbreaks. Some of the most common ones include:
Consider which staff members could be involved. If a staff member has been sick recently, then exclude them from the workplace until a medical specialist has confirmed that it is safe for them to work with food. Provide all employees with refresher training on the correct procedures for personal hygiene.
Consider all items on the menu that could be affected. If a person is sick after eating a particular dish, make a list of other menu items that share the same ingredients, and remove these from sale until the cause is identified.
Remove any suspect foods or ingredients from production or from storage. Keep a sample for testing in a tight sealed container. Label the container clearly so that it doesn’t get used by an unaware staff member.
It’s a good idea to set up a crisis management team who understand their responsibilities if the worst happens. The Crisis Management team may include the owners of the business, managers, chefs, HR personnel and anyone else in a position of authority.
The emergency contact list should include contact information for all the people and organisations that you may need to contact if a crisis occurs, for example:
Hopefully a food-borne illness outbreak never occurs at your food business - but with some forward preparation you can be prepared to deal with such incidents if the worst happens.
By Danielle Cullen
First appeared on Australia Institute of Food Safety®
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