When enjoying a meal, few take the time to consider all the steps it took to bring each of the ingredients from farm to dining table. Whether or not the food was prepared in your kitchen, at a restaurant, or in a retail setting, the main components of the dish were either harvested or raised from somewhere.
The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that consumers spend $1.53 trillion per year on food and beverages. And according to the USDA, about one third of every dollar spent by U.S. consumers on food is spent in foodservice establishments; $0.15 of every dollar goes to food processors, and $0.13 to food retailers.
The food industry as a whole encompasses millions of American laborers. From production to service, food workers constitute 17% of the workforce. They grow, harvest, process, distribute, prepare, and serve food to consumers across the country. Their jobs bring a unique set of risks and hazards, some of which result in injury or illness. In 2014 alone, food workers suffered over 116,000 non-fatal workplace injuries.
Here’s a closer look at the most pressing challenges in safety and wellness facing the frontline workers that make up a vital part of our food industry.
Center for Research and Public Policy. (2015). The Mind of the Food Worker: Behaviors and Perceptions that Impact Safety and Operations [Measurement instrument]. Retrieved from http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/403157/Mind_of_the_Food_Worker_Report.pdf
Newman KL, Leon JS, Newman LS. (2013). Estimating occupational illness, injury, and mortality in food production in the United States: a farm-to-table analysis. J Occup Environ Med. 2015;57(7):718-25.
Syamlal, G., Jamal, A., & Mazurek, J. M. (2015). Current Cigarette Smoking Among Workers in Accommodation and Food Services — United States, 2011–2013. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 64(29), 797-801. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6429a5
UC Berkeley Labor of Occupational Health Program. (2011). A Menu for Protecting the Health and Safety of Restaurant Workers. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/dte/grant_materials/fy10/sh-20864-10/rest_worker_manual.pdf
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