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How to respond to (empty?) threats from an employee in the context of food safety?

An employee would have said: ‘I’ll put something in the products!’

Imagine: multiple employees come to warn you that a co-worker has threatened to put ‘something’ in the products. What do you do?
It has already happened to many in the food business.

You know that the employee in question doesn’t feel good at the company. This situation raises certain questions. Did the employee actually say this? Or are there tensions between your employees? Does the employee seek to take revenge on the company? Or is it simply a discussion that got out of hand, leading to a statement which would never actually result in an intentional contamination? When you talk to the employee he claims he would never say such a thing. At this point it’s one person’s word against another’s.


Awareness on the work floor

Ensure that your employees know that their supervisors should be notified of such statements. Take such notifications seriously: let the employee know that he has dealt with the situation correctly and that you will look into the matter further.

Waste no time

Have a meeting with the staff manager/management and take immediate action. A preventive suspension is called for to get to the bottom of the matter. After a sufficient appraisal of the situation through interviews with the employees involved, you can proceed to serious measures.

A good discussion helps

First take the employee aside and give him the chance to have his say. Is something weighing heavily on his mind? Why doesn’t he feel comfortable at work? Such discussions contribute to workplace well-being. In the end, confront him with the statement in question in a calm and tactful manner. Explain clearly why such statements are unacceptable and what the consequences will be.

Food Security helps its members by:

  • giving your employees an awareness session on Food Defense. This will encourage them to get in the habit of reporting pertinent matters they have seen or heard of to their supervisors.
  • assisting you during the sensitive discussion with the employee. In this way we can offer our take on the story as an external partner.

  • organising info sessions. It is important to be aware at all times of who is working for your company. For some positions it is even recommended to carry out a reference check. In 2018 we will organise a session on pre-employment screening for the second time. If you’re interested, don’t hesitate to contact us at