The greatest fear of any foodservice business is a claim of illness or death by a consumer.
The largest number of claims by consumers against foodservice businesses is for chipped or broken teeth. From grit in improperly washed produce to stones in legumes, we're all human, and sometimes, despite our best efforts, things fall through the cracks, and someone gets hurt. Businesses could be financially liable for legal fees, pain and suffering, dental fees and possibly the claimant's time taken off work - in total, thousands of dollars per claim.
In Canada, only about 10% of actual instances of food poisoning are actually reported, yet it costs businesses millions of dollars each year. Having a valid Food Handler's certification is only one step to avoiding these errors. Food poisoning illnesses can range from vomiting to death. Whether or not there was actual food poisoning or that the food poisoning was related to something prepared by you - the fact that a claim of food poisoning is issued against you can shut down your business and ruin you financially. It's not just the high legal fees and awards by the courts to consumers who have been affected by foodborne illnesses, today's businesses also have to deal with negativity in the world of social media. The stress for any business owner is unimaginable, and no business in the realm of foodservice is exempt.
Every jurisdiction has different requirements when it comes to staff in foodservice businesses having valid Food Handler's certification. Restaurants are required to have at least one person on staff with it; catering companies, private or personal chefs, culinary instructors etc. may not be legally required to have them, although it is highly recommended that they do get this training. This leaves consumers vulnerable to errors. Without this training, these business owners or their staff may not have up-to-date knowledge about:
- General food handling protocols
- Raw and cooked food storage temperatures
- Sanitation and hygiene procedures
- Disinfection procedures for surfaces and equipment/tools
Liability insurance protects businesses from many of the costs of claims - from legal fees to pay-outs to claimants. It gives business owners the peace of mind that should an accident occur, their business can still continue to operate, and they won't be personally on-the-hook for these costs.