Food industry workers who become whistleblowers gained protection against retaliation from their employers with a little-noticed provision in the sweeping food safety law President Barack Obama signed last month.
The Food Safety and Modernization Act is best known for sections that aim to prevent foodborne illnesses, allow the Food and Drug Administration to order recalls and make it easier to trace contaminated food to its source. But the law also protects workers at food companies regulated by the FDA from being fired, demoted or denied promotions or raises if they speak up about what they think are violations.
Protections mean little if the workers covered by them don't know they exist, so the Government Accountability Project, a non-profit whistleblowing organization that supported the new safeguards, was sponsoring a conference Friday in Washington to raise awareness. Lawyers, activists and government officials were expected to attend.