No restaurant wants to be responsible for a case of food poisoning, but the fact is, it happens. When cooks are less than vigilant, or even when a shipment is not what it should be, you run the risk of a lawsuit.
What do you do if you’re selling food that caused food poisoning? This article breaks it down.
An Ounce Of Prevention
Always be sure that you are ready for the eventuality of food poisoning. If your restaurant serves foods that are more likely to cause sicknesses, such as raw fish or rare meat, be ready. Post a warning in the restaurant and on the menu stating that these items may cause illness and that you are not responsible!
These warnings may not protect you in court, but keeping your consumers informed will help to prevent them from consuming something they shouldn’t.
This is especially true for allergens such as nuts, shellfish, and gluten. Warning about these allergens upfront could save you a lawsuit down the line. Be sure all your food is properly labeled or you could end up facing a personal injury lawsuit for your negligence!
Deny, Deny, Deny
This classic advice is extremely important in the moments after a guest thinks they might have food poisoning! Although your first impulse after a guest reports food poisoning might be to apologize, resist that urge! Apologizing to a guest who has food poisoning could be equated to an admission of guilt in court.
Instead of apologizing, ask the guest if anyone else in their party experienced the same symptoms they did. Try to find out as much about the situation as possible to see if your food is actually the cause of the problem. Do not say anything that could implicate your restaurant as the cause of their sickness.
Keep Your Reputation Clean
Following an accusation of food poisoning, be especially aware of your restaurant’s online presence. Disgruntled customers are likely to post negative reviews on Facebook or Yelp.
The Health Department has increasingly been using complaints on Yelp to find businesses that are not complying with health codes, so a bad review mentioning any type of illness following could end with a visit from the health inspector.
Obviously this isn’t the most reliable model – an upset customer could easily feign illness online to get your business into trouble, even if they were never sick, to begin with. However, this is something to address and be aware of when dealing with customer complaints.
No matter what your customer is complaining about, just remember to stay cool! You are in control of the situation and you have the power to make it better. Every complaint is a chance to improve your restaurant in disguise!