Flu season is here. And when the flu strikes, the luckier victims may call in sick without getting punished or losing pay.
But many American workers, including those who handle our food, aren’t so fortunate.
Fifty-one percent of food workers — who do everything from grow and process food to cook and serve it — said they “always” or “frequently” go to work when they’re sick, according to the results of a survey released Monday. An additional 38 percent said they go to work sick “sometimes.”
That’s a practice that can have serious public health consequences. For instance, as The Salt reported last year, the vast majority of reported cases of norovirus — theleading cause of foodborne disease outbreaks and illnesses across the country — have been linked to infected food industry workers.
But it’s not as if these sick food workers are careless. Nine out of 10 workers polled in the new survey said they feel responsible for the safety and well-being of their customers. Yet about 45 percent said they go to work sick because they “can’t afford to lose pay.” And about 46 percent said they do it because they “don’t want to let co-workers down.”