A new study suggests consumers may have more to worry about when dining out than the bill. The restaurant workers’ union, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, conducted a study involving more than 4,000 workers; the majority of whom admitted to working while sick.
Sixty-three percent of restaurant employees said they cooked or served food while ill during the last 12 months because they needed the money.
Many foodborne illnesses can be spread from person-to-food, with the potential to sicken hundreds of people. Diseases such as Salmonella, E. coli and Norovirus can be transmitted from sick food handlers who don’t wash their hands properly or handle ready-to-eat foods and utensils. In April, sick food workers at an Illinois Subway restaurant sickened at least 125 people with Shigella, hospitalizing 13 people.
ROCU argues the study highlights the need for more paid sick days to protect workers and consumers.
"The main thing that I think I took away from the research was that when restaurant workers are unhealthy, there's a real potential for consumers to be unhealthy," ROC Policy Coordinator Jose Oliva said to The News-Herald. "In the context of this great recession, we're seeing that employers are pushing workers more and more, and that's manifested in a lot more workers in restaurants working longer hours and doing it for less pay. As the study demonstrates, they are without some basic standards, as well as health insurance."
Other alarming statistics the study found:
-38 percent of workers said they had done something while working that put their safety at risk.
-36 percent said their kitchens sometimes get so hot that conditions are unsafe.
-Almost half said they had been either cut or burned on the job.
-Almost 90 percent don’t get health insurance through their employers.
Sick restaurant workers trudge into work regardless, study says
By Danielle Koagel
October 04, 2010