How to handle food contaminated with blood

Food contaminated with blood is in the media this week after it was reported that a family is suing Starbucks. Two years ago, they allegedly found a barista’s blood smeared on a cup containing their beverages.

To avoid this type of incident occurring in your food business a written policy should be implemented. In this post I explain what should be stipulated and how food contaminated with blood should be handled.

Legal context

You will find that the majority of food law around the world will have a clause that only safe and suitable food is sold to customers. Although legislation does not specifically call out food contaminated with blood, the intent is the same.

If your food business is certified to a GFSI recognized standard, you will find that there is a requirement to have a written policy in place that specifies how your business will handle food, packaging or other surfaces that have come into contact with blood. For example, The SQF Code – Fundamentals, Edition 8, documents this in

What is the risk?

From a public health standpoint, you may be thinking “what is the risk if a customer did consume food contaminated with blood?”. Research would suggest that there is a very low risk of contracting HIV or Hepatitis in this manner. Regardless of this, it is advised that your food business should not serve contaminated product to your customers.

Food contaminated with blood policy

Consider the following elements when documenting your ‘food contaminated with blood’ policy:

  • The action your food business will take if food, packaging or a food contact surface is found to be contaminated or in contact with blood.
  • Procedures on how blood spills are cleaned up
  • Procedures on disposing of any contaminated food product or food packaging (including labels)
  • Procedures on cleaning and sanitizing contaminated surfaces
  • Training all food handlers in the correct procedures
  • First aid procedures on treating the injured worker
  • Procedures on how cuts and injuries are reported within your business

You can use those elements as a starting point to document a policy specific to your business operations.

Training Staff

Like any policy implementation within your food business, training is imperative. Ensure that key people are trained in their first aid responsibilities. All food handlers should be trained in reporting incidents and dealing with contaminated products and surfaces.

What do you think?

Does your food business have a food contaminated with blood policy currently in place? Share your views and insights with the HACCP Mentor community by leaving a comment below.


6 thoughts on “How to handle food contaminated with blood”

  1. Latricia A Dalton

    Is there a compliance agency in Georgia that I can report an employee gave me a contaminated bag with their blood wipes and concealed on it?

  2. We don’t have specific policy but we have many procedures to deal with blood contaminated food as immediate first aid procedure applied and disposal for all materials around the incident area, insure sanitizing for the place and workers around, and report the case.. and other precautions and controls may included..

  3. I believe we all should know what to do when we know an item has blood on it. I wonder though if the barista knew there was blood on it and just how much blood was involved? Knowing that part of the worlds penchant for litigation and the medias love of artistic license, I am willing to bet it was nothing more than a drop that the barista didn’t even know they had ‘smeared’. Let’s hope that was the case anyway.

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