Keeping consumers safe and healthy as well of free of any food-related illness is top priority when working in the food industry. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recently taken new strides to ensure that new procedures would be set in place for handling retaliation complaints under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. This means that, if a whistleblower comes forth about food not being handled with the utmost of safety, OSHA will offer protections to that employee for coming forth in the first place.
Section 402 of FSMA
In January 2011, Section 402 of FSMA established that employees who disclose information about a possible violation of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act would be protected in any case. This is held in regards to employers that manufacture, process, pack, transport, distribute, receive, hold, or import food. If a food industry worker feels that the safety of the public is being threatened, then they should never be silenced from taking action. Some employers will threaten employees with firing or demotion for taking action against them for a health violation, which is highly illegal according to retaliation laws. The rights of workers who report illegal activity will always be protected, according to Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. David Michaels.
An employer is never allowed to discriminate against an employer in the manufacture, processing, packing, transporting, distribution, reception, holding, or importation business regarding the food industry if they do or have done any of the following:
- Provide information to the employer, Federal Government, or attorney general relating to a possible violation under the Act
- Testified or is about to testify in a proceeding regarding a violation
- Participating in a proceeding
- Objecting to participating in any activity, policy, practice, or assigned task that the employee reasonably believed was in violation of any provision of the Act
New Jersey’s Department of Health works to assure that products are free of foodborne diseases to prevent illness that could come to the consumer after purchase and consumption. New Jersey holds the health of residents on a high level and assures that all retail food establishments and manufacturers are following safety rules and regulations as well as keeping up to date with specific licenses that are needed in the line of work.
Foodborne diseases are caused by consuming foods or beverages that are contaminated. Many people are unaware that, if you consume a good that has disease-causing microbes or pathogens, you could obtain an infection and fall ill due to it. More than 250 various foodborne diseases have been identified, some of the most popular being Salmonella, E. Coli, and Campylobacter. Failure to prepare foods with proper care could cause foodborne diseases to spread, which means that several people could become infected and face severe complications or even fatalities. Some of the most obvious ways for consumers to protect themselves from illness is to cook meat properly, separate food to avoid cross-contamination, chill properly, clean and wash produce, always wash hands, and report suspected foodborne illnesses to your local health department.
Unfortunately, many people fall victim to illnesses every year because of failure to report. If a worker suspects that unsafe practices are taking place in the food industry, they have a right to report without fear of losing their job. These laws should be taken as seriously as possible to protect consumers at all costs.