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The Domino’s Effect – Presenteeism Among Food Handlers

While Domino’s has been in the news this week due to the unfortunate video hijinks of a couple of their workers in North Carolina, the issue of sick food handlers is one of serious and ongoing concern according to our board member, David Creelman who submitted the following food for thought:

Here is a big issue for organizations who have large numbers of workers who handle food (e.g. hospitality industry, food processing etc.)  A ground breaking study by Toronto Public Health found that “between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of food-borne illnesses in restaurants can be traced to sick food handlers who transfer bacteria to diners through the food they prepare.”  About 6% of Toronto’s citizens get sick every year due to sick food handlers — that’s a big public health issue.

This is clearly an HR issue since the main reason sick food handlers come to work is that they feel they can’t afford to take a day off sick.

No doubt this study will lead governments at all levels to get worried about companies who let sick food handlers come to work; so HR leaders had better be prepared to deal with the issue pro-actively.

The story on this study appeared in the Toronto Star
www.thestar.com/article/619941

Just to add a bit of colour to this story, if you are the sort of person who routinely eats in the world’s top 10 restaurants you will no doubt be aware that the Fat Duck in London recently had to shut down when many diners became ill.  One suspected cause for the outbreak of illness was that customers picked up a bug from sick staff.

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  1. Nina #

    Your blog on presenteeism made me think of the worst offender, Typhoid Mary.

    Wikipedia says that “over the course of her career as a cook, she is known to have infected 53 people, three of whom died from the disease. Her notoriety is in part due to her vehement denial of her own role in spreading the disease, together with her refusal to cease working as a cook.”

    April 20, 2009

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