Health & Safety Regulatory Compliance Critical For Chicago Small Businesses

A Chicago catering company has been shut down by federal inspectors in the wake of claims that the company did not properly protect food from contamination.

Our Chicago small business attorneys know how devastating this can be to a restaurant or food-service business. To be shut down any time of year threatens a company's survival. But to be shut down at the holidays may very well force a catering company out of business. To say nothing of the damage to reputation that food-contamination allegations present.

Triple A Services, a South Throop Street caterer, agreed to take a number of food-safety measures, including the hiring of food sanitation of food processing experts, before reopening, according to the Chicago Tribune. The lawsuit filed on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found violations during inspections in July and August of this year. The company operates a 46,0000 square foot Chicago facility with a 24-hour kitchen and bakery. It provides catering and office coffee and bottled water services.

Complying with environmental, health and safety regulations is critical to the health and viability of any business enterprise. As this case illustrates, consulting an attorney and putting plans in place to ensure compliance is often much easier, and much less expensive, than dealing with the fallout from citations and other non-compliance issues.

The lawsuit alleges bacteria was found at the facility as far back as 2001. The government's reaching into the past as part of the lawsuit illustrates why a legal defense is always required, even when a business or facility believes a common citation is the extent of the consequences. On the surface, this lawsuit also alleges relatively routine complaints, including a lack of a written plan for dealing with seafood, pest control issues, failure to fix a leaking water issue and employee cleanliness issues. These are all problems common within the restaurant industry. A thorough review of this case may also reveal that the company could have easily prevented the case from escalating by either defending itself or resolving a few simple issues.

Instead it has a public relations issue and is facing fines of $2,500 a day if it fails to comply with a consent decree. Forced closure will likely cost it thousands more. Remaining proactive from the start, and having a thorough understanding of your rights, can literally save your business when dealing with local, state or federal regulators.

Other common issues involving Environmental, Health and Safety regulations include:

-Regulations involving the Occupations Safety and Health Administration: Issues related to employment regulations and work safety.

-Regulations involving the Environmental Protection Agency: Administrative and court defense of alleged violations.

-Regulatory compliance and affairs: Clean Air Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Toxic Substance Control Act, Clean Water Act.

-Due diligence and risk management: Environmental site assessments and compliance audits.

-Remedial actions and Brownfield projects: Cleanup options and obligations.

-Governmental inspections and proceedings: Defense and administrative resolutions.

Jeremy A. Gibson & Associates is a law firm dedicated to business litigation in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois. Call 877-452-4529 for a free consultation.

Resources:

Caterer shut down on contamination fears, By Julie Wernau, Chicago Tribune, Dec. 23, 2011.

Small Business Advice Can Keep Chicago Companies in Compliance with State and Federal Regulatons, Chicago Business Lawyer Blog, Oct. 18, 2011.