Header graphic for print

Marler Blog

Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

A Business Reason to Avoid Foodborne Illnesses

For the last 20 plus years at food safety conferences around the world, I have primarily pitched the moral reason not to poison customers.  With 48,000,000 sickened each year, 125,000 hospitalized and 3,000 deaths in the U.S., I have had far too many examples to choose from.  With the economic losses to the victims and their families being nearly $100,000,000,000 yearly, foodborne illness clearly impacts people, and in and of itself is reason enough to focus on food safety.

However, if the above statistics do not motivate a CEO to invest in food safety, the below graph certainly should:

ClSXM73UoAEzGor

With several food safety lapses in 2015 and resulting outbreaks of E. coli (some never reported), Salmonella and Norovirus, Chipotle has seen its stock price fall from over $750 to below $400 – that is serious money.  Paying attention to detail and investing in food safety likely would have prevented this loss as well as the various stockholder lawsuits and a criminal investigation.

So, pick the moral or business reason to not sicken customers – hopefully both.

One, note – the other costs that are not even counted above include recall cost (can be massive) and other economic losses throughout a chain of production.

I am off to the other Washington this week to teach a class on business ethics, give a speech to a couple of dozen congress members, and meet with some FDA, FSIS and White House staffers – wish me luck.