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OSHA gives whistleblower status for employee food safety complaints

April 18, 2016
by Pamela Tabar, Editor-in-Chief
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Better cook that pork to the proper temperature and review your food-handling procedures to ensure compliance. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule giving protected whistleblower status to employees who alert authorities to improper food handling and other food safety violations.

The rule allows employees to report any employer retaliation from whistleblower activity related to food safety to the Department of Labor and provides a process for recouping damages from suspensions, demotion, discharge, threats, harassment and other discriminations.

“Food industry workers must never be silenced by the threat of losing their jobs when their safety or the safety of the public is at stake,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels in an OSHA agency release. “This rule underscores the agency’s commitment to protect the rights of workers who report illegal activity in their workplace.”

The rule, effective April 18, 2016, is an addition to the Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 and applies to entities that manufacture, process, pack, transport, distribute, receive, hold or import food.