Food Safety Incidents – The Ugly Truth

Food Safety incidents can sometimes have a devastating impact on all stakeholders involved. The world’s population grows daily and the increasing demand for food creates both new opportunities and challenges to Food Safety.

Consumers buy food products and assume they are of high quality and safe to eat. They have a right to expect this. While consumers, governments and others play an important part in ensuring Food Safety and Quality, the ultimate responsibility lies with the food industry and any food-handling establishment.

Food Safety Incidents

It is nearly impossible to supply high quality and safe food products without an effective Food Safety Management System in place. Food Safety policies and procedures eliminate/reduce/ prevent minor to serious Food Safety incidents.

Food Safety incidents can have a very negative impact on; consumers, employers and employees. Let’s have a look at these impacts.

The Impact of Food Safety Incidents on the Consumer

The customer (consumer) is at the heart of any business, including food-handling establishments. No business can survive without customers buying their products.

Food Safety incidents can have the following negative impact on consumers:

  • Food Safety Incidents and the ConsumerConsumers might become ill due to hazards present in the food, and in some cases, this can even lead to death.
  • Consumers will lose trust in the product or brand and might decide never to buy the product or brand again. In some instances, a whole industry can be affected; not just the specific product or brand.
  • Consumers will not recommend the product/brand to others like; friends, family and colleagues. They might even turn to social media, resulting in large-scale negative publicity for the product/brand/ industry.

The Impact of Food Safety Incidents on the Employer

Ultimately, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that food products are safe for human consumption. Employers have a moral, commercial and legal obligation.

Food Safety incidents can have the following negative impact on the employer:

  • Food Safety Incidents and the EmployerLegal implications – consumers can sue the company and/or the government can impose penalties. These costs can run into the millions.
  • A product recall is also another costly exercise. The affected food needs to be removed from all stores’ shelves.
  • The company or the whole industry can get a bad reputation, and consumers will stop buying these products or brands.
  • All the above will result in massive income loss and it sometimes takes a very long time, if ever, to recover. Smaller businesses rarely survive major food incidents.

The Impact of Food Safety Incidents on the Employee

Employees are at the core of any food-handling establishment. They perform various duties daily that can put the safety of food at risk. Every employee needs to understand the company’s Food Safety policies and procedures. This is only possible with proper training.

Food Safety Incidents and the EmployeeEmployers trust and rely on employees to follow all the necessary policies and procedures to ensure the food product stays safe for human consumption.

Food Safety incidents can have the following negative impact on the employee:

  • Employees can find themselves without a job when a business closes their doors due to a major Food Safety incident.
  • This does not only affect the employee but also their families, who rely on the income.


A Food Safety incident can damage a company’s reputation, be very costly and leave people without jobs. It can even have a negative impact on a country’s economy.

An effective Food Safety system benefits outweigh the cost implications of a Food Safety incident by far.

Major corporations, as well as small businesses, are all at risk. No exceptions. Don’t become part of the statistics. Implement an effective Food Safety system if you don’t have one and make sure you maintain your current system (and keep it up to date).

You are more than welcome to contact ASC Consultants should you need advice or help.

Please drop us a comment in the “comment section” below. We love to hear from our website visitors.

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7 thoughts on “Food Safety Incidents – The Ugly Truth”

  1. Hi there,

    I rarely post comments on the internet, but I couldn’t go without thanking you for this amazing post which contains a lot of useful information. As a small business owner myself who’s, in the beginning, it’s quite hard to maintain good quality because it’s expensive.. And let’s be honest, in this day and age, it’s really easy to manufacture a product that fits in the norms and which is less expensive. HOWEVER, with the use of such products the risk of an incident is much higher, so I decided to make absolutely No compromise when it comes to the quality of my products, thus ensuring a better future for me, my business and my employees.

    As I said, I’m in the beginning and would like to ask you if you have some good suggestions/tips on how to improve my Food safety system and policy?

    Thank you in advance,Nick.

    • Hi Nick,
      Thanks for the comment. As a beginner business owner I suggest you first establish what regulations are required to meet the minimum requirements for a food-handling establishment in your area/country.

      Secondly I would suggest you do as much research as possible about implementing an effective food safety management system for your business. A proper food safety management system can be initially a nightmare to setup from scratch, but once done you only need to maintain and update the system. You are also welcome to follow our blog for great basic tips when it comes to food safety.

      Thirdly your staff need to understand the importance of food safety and quality, as well as practicing good basic hygiene practices. These are only a few basic tips. There are a lot more to an effective food safety system. You are welcome to contact us if you need more advice.

  2. As a business owner I can say food safety incidents are something truly nasty for the company’s brand.

    I am not in the food industry, but the power of social media for bad news is a real concern for any business. Meaning that bad news travels 9 times faster than good news.

    The legal aspects that can come from food safety incidents can be devastating to a company. What kind of fine can you get for not having a food handler permit, though? Or what can happen if you employ people that don’t have food handler permits.

  3. I’m an advocate of food service safety incident awareness and solutions. This is primarily because I know the value of properly handled food. I have personally encountered several instances of serious food safety violations with my food ordered from a handful of popular restaurants. It happens all too common and not much is ever usually done. This is why I saw the value in this article and appreciate it. Great read!

  4. There recently has been an incident in Australia with their strawberries being sabotaged with needles of all things. The damage caused was widespread from the growers right through to the end retailers and employees like you mention. Eventually it was discovered only one company was involved. Any food safety incident can become a very big problem, very quickly for everybody.

    • Hi Vaughn,
      Thanks for leaving us a comment. Once your company is identified as the culprit in a food safety incident, there is no turning back. It can sometimes cause damage beyond repair and many stakeholders are affected.


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