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March 26, 2013
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) warns that 48 million Americans contract foodborne illnesses and 3000 people die from 31 known pathogens annually. They say many of these illnesses are caught in the home. The CDC cites dairy as the #1 cause, quickly followed by contact with animals. Salmonella in vegetables is also on the rise.
People with foodborne illnesses often point their finger at the last restaurant they visited. However, in the hundreds of claims submitted by Parker, Smith & Feek every year, we have found the restaurant is almost never at fault. Still, patrons try to hold them responsible.
Handling a Foodborne Illness Claim
The CDC, FDA, and OSHA do not have a clear set of reporting procedures for foodborne illness incidents involving single restaurants. Many states have explicit rules and none are the same. Search your state’s regulatory database for “foodborne illness reporting procedures.”
Your general liability policy might also have a suggested set of claim procedures for customers allegedly injured by the foodborne illness. They may differ slightly from state reporting rules and your property policy foodborne illness coverage. Some property policies provide coverage for loss of income due to a shutdown.
Once a foodborne illness allegation is brought to the restaurant’s attention, insurance claim procedures are:
Foodborne illness accusations should be taken very seriously. It is up to the establishment to jump into action to protect their business and its reputation. Establishments that react quickly and follow procedure generally find the alleged poisoning or pathogen has a different source.
Brokers who specialize in the hospitality industry understand the sensitive nature of this topic to the reputation, operation, and income of a restaurant or hotel. Wording and proper coverage is key to understanding every policy, to assure full protection. If you have questions or need assistance with a foodborne illness accusation, the Hospitality Practice Group is highly experienced and can help walk you through the process and protect your interests.