While an obvious risk to public health and employees, outbreaks of food or water-borne illness can have huge ramifications on the reputation of the brands associated with the site of contamination. It’s therefore important that monitoring of potential hazards and outbreaks be a constant priority to ensure safety to the public, and the health of the associated brand.

The recent Legionnaire’s disease outbreak in Anaheim, California stands as a pertinent example of the importance of such monitoring, with news organisations and social media users quick to connect the incidents which have affected 15 people including one Disneyland employee, and left two dead, to the Disneyland theme park.

Despite the two victims not having visited the park, Disneyland took the action of closing two water cooling towers after having them return elevated levels of Legionella bacteria, leading to a litany of news content connecting the outbreak with the iconic family destination.

legionnaire's disease legionella symbio laboraotries
Credit: ALAMY

This case study provides two very important lessons for companies, regardless of industry. Firstly, that constant monitoring of water sources is vital for the correct management of harmful bacteria.

And secondly, the perceived connection between incident and brand can be thrown into a news cycle hungry for headlines and public outrage, proving disastrous for a brand’s public image and perception of quality and diligence.

For businesses employing the use of water storage facilities, this is an extremely relevant example of the importance of working with an accredited sampling and analysis partner. But, importantly, this lesson can be extended to businesses in the food and beverage industries where other pathogens such as Listeria and Salmonella remain an ever-present risk.

In a world where damaging and spurious news articles remain available online even once a brand is cleared of negligence or responsibility, a simple Google search is all that’s needed to put the seeds of doubt in the mind of potential customers.

So, why risk it?

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